Bobby Elliott1

Notre Dame makes Elliott hiring official


Notre Dame has announced the addition of Bobby Elliott as safeties coach, finalizing the defensive side of the ball and putting into place a veteran coach that’ll replace Chuck Martin’s coaching and leadership.

Elliott will team with co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks to work with a secondary that’ll need to replace Robert Blanton, Gary Gray and captain Harrison Smith.

“I couldn’t be more excited about bringing Bob Elliott to Notre Dame,” head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “At his core, Bob is an outstanding teacher and tactician. He has had great success developing top-tier defensive backs and his experience as a defensive coordinator will complement our coaching staff. Bobby has a long-standing relationship with Bob Diaco and Kerry Cooks so the transition to our staff should be extremely smooth. I know our safeties will love playing for him.”

In quotes released by the school, Elliott talked about his relationship with his former pupils Cooks and Bob Diaco, who he’ll now work with as they lead a defense that should lead the football team, as long as the secondary can hold up.

“The great thing about Kerry and Bobby is I come in with a total understanding of the character of these two guys,” Elliott said. “They’ve grown since I knew them before. They’re level of expertise is outstanding. They’ve ascended to the top of the coaching profession in the days we have been separated. I’ve actually used both of them as resources in my career in the last few years as well. Both of them have great ideas. Both of them have grown and matured and are outstanding coaches. The base fundamental of the character of those two guys is top shelf and that’s what led me to want to be back with them again.”

With less than two weeks to go until Signing Day, Elliott was candid about his role in finalizing this year’s recruiting class, turning his focus to the 2013 class and the players he’ll be coaching.

“I’ll have a limited role in this year’s recruiting class. This year’s class is pretty much done and there’s not much I could add to it,” Elliott added. “Recruiting is about relationships and trust. At this late of date I wouldn’t be able to help in those areas too much. I’ll get started on the next class ASAP. I’ve already started on it in my mind. I’ll look to get to know our current players. I’m really interested in getting to know our guys as much as I possibly can. I want to listen to them talk about themselves. I’m really looking forward to that next week.”

After spending most of his career in the state of Iowa, as well as an incredibly successful stop at Kansas State, the opportunity to head to Notre Dame, and to work with former players he’s stayed closed with for so long, proved too big of an opportunity to pass up.

“I grew up in the Midwest around the Big Ten and Big 12. Much of my coaching background and all of my experience is generated from Midwest football and Notre Dame is legendary. We are really excited to associated with this great place,” Elliot said.

“This was an opportunity to do something for my family that I just couldn’t pass up. It was one of those opportunities that you get once in a lifetime.”

Even amidst chaos, Kelly expecting USC’s best

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rocky Hayes, Blaise Taylor

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired on Monday, with interim head coach Clay Helton taking the reins of the Trojan program during tumultuous times. Helton will be the fourth different USC head coach to face Notre Dame in as many years, illustrative of the chaos that’s shaken up Heritage Hall in the years since Pete Carroll left for the NFL.

All eyes are on the SC program, with heat on athletic director Pat Haden and the ensuing media circus that only Los Angeles can provide. But Brian Kelly doesn’t expect anything but their best when USC boards a plane to take on the Irish in South Bend.

While the majority of Notre Dame’s focus will be inward this week, Kelly did take the time on Sunday and Monday to talk with his team about the changes atop the Trojan program, and how they’ll likely impact the battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh.

“We talked about there would be an interim coach, and what that means,” Kelly said. “Teams come together under those circumstances and they’re going to play their very best. And I just reminded them of that.”

While nobody on this Notre Dame roster has experienced a coaching change, they’ve seen their share of scrutiny. The Irish managed to spring an upset not many saw coming against LSU last year in the Music City Bowl after a humiliating defeat against the Trojans and amidst the chaos of a quarterbacking controversy. And just last week, we saw Charlie Strong’s team spring an upset against arch rival Oklahoma when just about everybody left the Longhorns for dead.

“I think you look at the way Texas responded this past weekend with a lot of media scrutiny,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I expect USC to respond the same way, so we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Outside of the head coaching departure, it’s difficult to know if there’ll be any significant difference between a team lead by Sarkisian or the one that Helton will lead into battle. The offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has been at USC for six years, and has already held the title of interim head coach when he led the Trojans to a 2013 Las Vegas Bowl title after Lane Kiffin was fired and Ed Orgeron left the program after he wasn’t given the full time position.

Helton will likely call plays, a role he partially handled even when Sarkisian was on the sideline. The defense will still be run by Justin Wilcox. And more importantly, the game plan will be executed by a group of players that are among the most talented in the country.

“They have some of the finest athletes in the country. I’ve recruited a lot of them, and they have an immense amount of pride for their program and personal pride,” Kelly said. “So they will come out with that here at Notre Dame, there is no question about that.”

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.