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Notre Dame makes Terry Joseph hire as safeties coach official


Notre Dame (finally) announced the long-reported hire of Terry Joseph as safeties coach Tuesday. Most recently the defensive backs coach at North Carolina, Joseph fills the remaining hole left by former Irish defensive coordinator/safeties coach Mike Elko’s departure for Texas A&M. Linebackers coach Clark Lea was previously promoted to defensive coordinator.

“There are a lot of great programs in the nation, but there is only one Notre Dame,” Joseph said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working with [head coach Brian] Kelly, the rest of the staff and embracing the opportunity to compete on a national stage in pursuit of this program’s mission: To graduate all of its players and win a national championship.”

Prior to North Carolina, Joseph spent time at Texas A&M, Nebraska, Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. With the Irish, his work will be cut out for him. Notre Dame lacks an established safety and could see two new starters at the position in 2018.

“Terry has an excellent reputation as a quality teacher and coach, as well as a committed recruiter,” Kelly said. “He has developed all-conference caliber players at each of his earlier stops. … Our players will certainly benefit from Terry’s teaching in terms of football, but I’m probably more excited to see our players benefit from his leadership skills away from football.”

Along with the announcement, Notre Dame released a video with some words from Joseph in which he makes quite a bold guarantee right from the top.

Note: The Irish safeties recorded zero interceptions in 2017.

RELATED READING: Reports: Notre Dame taps North Carolina’s Terry Joseph as safeties coach
Monday’s Leftovers: Notre Dame needs Terry Joseph to develop DBs … and recruit them (Jan. 22)

“What are the odds of additional coaching changes after National Signing Day?” — irishwilliamsport

The instinct is to say there is no chance, but that would be foolish. It is very unlikely. One of the side effects of December’s early signing period seems to be it moved the coaching carousel’s peak movement up by a few weeks. That showed itself in the assistant coaching staff turnover across the country shortly after Christmas.

The counter to that expedited timeline has been the addition of a 10th assistant coach to each staff. That created 129 new jobs. Some of those were already designated, such as Notre Dame with Tom Rees officially serving as a graduate assistant last season knowing he would be slotted into that 10th assistant spot as soon as it was legal. That “promotion” was so presumed and resulted in so little change, there was never even an official press release. The first people to notice it were probably 2019 quarterback commit Cade McNamara (Damonte Ranch High School; Reno, Nev.) and his parents; once officially an assistant coach, Rees could recruit off campus.

Many of those 10th assistants have trickled upward throughout the Football Bowl Subdivision. It has led to an increase in assistant salary pools and added another layer to the usual coaching carousel.

Obviously, the effects of the early signing period as they pertain to coaching changes will be seen every year. This assistant coaching influx, though, is a one-time occurrence.

Nonetheless, the Irish coaching staff has seen enough turnover in the last 14 months to think it is set for at least the next 10.

“He’s completely changed our culture.”

Notre Dame also released a video highlighting the contributions from strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Balis on Tuesday. This is a hype video and little else, but when noted straight-shooter Mike McGlinchey offers the above bolded quote, it stands out. The two-time captain has not paid anyone lip service in the last two years. McGlinchey giving that type of credit to one individual stands out as praise of a particularly honest brand.

The Irish undeniably faded over the regular season’s final third, but wholly rectifying the mistakes in the team’s strength and conditioning likely needed more than eight months of an offseason.

Further mailbag questions are welcome at

Kevin Stepherson, three others no longer on Notre Dame roster

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Irish head coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame parted ways with four underclassmen Tuesday, in a move only partially-expected. Sophomore receiver Kevin Stepherson, sophomore running back Deon McIntosh, freshman running back C.J. Holmes and junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum are no longer part of the team, a University spokesperson confirmed.

Pete Sampson of Irish Illustrated first reported the dismissals. The spring semester began Tuesday.

Stepherson’s departure, at least, was widely-expected after a December weekend of bad decisions brought his count of mishaps to four during his brief Irish career and induced an indefinite suspension. The lesser of those transgressions came with Holmes at his side, as the duo was charged with shoplifting from a nearby mall. Stepherson was also charged with possession of marijuana, speeding and driving without a valid license. Back in August of 2016, he was one of five players charged with marijuana possession, though no suspension came from that issue.

Following the shoplifting incident but before the additional Stepherson charges had come to light, Kelly expressed distinct disappointment in the choice made on a Friday night.

“You can’t steal, and they did,” he said. “I can tolerate a lot of things, but I can’t tolerate stealing. That’s why they’re suspended indefinitely and they put themselves in jeopardy.”

Kelly said he did hope to keep the players, specifically Stepherson, eligible so if they were removed from the team a transfer may be in their futures.

“If I wasn’t to have him back in the football program we want him to maintain his eligibility here so he can transfer to another program,” Kelly said.

Sophomore Deon McIntosh provided crucial depth for Notre Dame as ankle sprains limited juniors Josh Adams and Dexter Williams and sophomore Tony Jones. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

McIntosh was sent home from Orlando during Citrus Bowl preparations due to a violation of team rules. Tiassum’s exit will be a question for the time being, with no public knowledge of any issues.

While long-presumed, the loss of Stepherson still bears the most notice. When engaged, he was Notre Dame’s most explosive receiver, finishing 2017 with 359 yards and five touchdowns on 19 catches in only eight games, with genuine offensive involvement in only six. He caught 25 passes for 462 yards and five scores in his freshman season.

Cutting ties with both McIntosh and Holmes comes as a bit more of a surprise and will cut deep into the Irish running back depth. As ankle injuries limited the running game mainstays, McIntosh provided a reserve option, finishing the year with 368 yards and five touchdowns on 65 carries, a 5.7 yards per rush average. Holmes was activated to further counteract the injury concerns. If McIntosh were banged up, Notre Dame theoretically had one more option. He finished with eight carries for 32 yards.

Without the two backups, the Irish have only three running backs currently on the roster in junior Dexter Williams, sophomore Tony Jones and early-enrolled Jahmir Smith. Williams and Jones were likely to remain the top two on the depth chart, mitigating McIntosh and Holmes again, but the depth is always crucial at running back, as 2017 certainly proved.

Tiassum was unlikely to see much playing time in the future thanks to the returns of junior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and senior defensive tackle Jonathan Bonner announced Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Tiassum made two tackles in 2017.

Bonner’s decision to return brought the Irish roster up to 87 players with three spots open in the current recruiting cycle. That count had already presumed Stepherson off the roster. Thus, this development drops that number to 84, including committed consensus three-star offensive tackle Luke Jones. The NCAA maximum allowed come fall is 85.

One-time Notre Dame Heisman candidate, Josh Adams declares for the NFL

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It would have been an ideal scenario for Notre Dame if junior running back Josh Adams returned for his senior year, but that may not have been in his best interests. Thus, Adams announced Friday afternoon he will head to the NFL.

“With a lot of thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft!” Adams wrote. “… I’ll always have Notre Dame in my heart.

“With my decision, I hope that people will know, and kids will see how it’s okay to chase your dreams, because with God ‘ALL things are possible.’”

Adams went on to state he will “definitely” return to the University to earn his degree.

The Irish running game hinged on Adams and the dominant offensive line in front of him this season, with the one-time Heisman candidate finishing the year with 1,430 yards gained on 206 attempts, adding nine touchdowns. He finishes his career with 3,198 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging a startling 6.6 yards per carry. His career total places Adams fifth in Notre Dame history. His 229 yards at Boston College in September are fourth in single-game school history and paced the team to its most-efficient rushing performance in modern history.

Perhaps not a first-round draft pick, Adams will still likely hear his name called in an early round. Given the career longevity for running backs in the NFL — rather, the lack thereof — seizing that opportunity makes an abundance of sense.

“I chose Notre Dame because it was a place that allowed me to pursue my full potential,” Adams wrote. “It was a decision that would affect the rest of my life.”

Without Adams, the Irish backfield still has both depth and talent, led by current junior Dexter Williams and sophomore Tony Jones, with sophomore Deon McIntosh and (currently suspended indefinitely) freshman C.J. Holmes adding further depth and incoming freshman Jahmir Smith on the way to round off the options.

Arguments can be and have been made Williams was not used enough in Notre Dame’s offense in 2017, but that can be somewhat attributed to Adams’ record-setting successes. In addition, nagging ankle and quad injuries limited Williams throughout the season, as did an ankle to Jones.

The most likely scenario moving forward is Williams sees the most action only if he develops as an every-down back, as in, only if he develops as a pass blocker. For example, he followed two successful runs in the Citrus Bowl by immediately missing a block and exposing sophomore quarterback Ian Book.

If that progress occurs, Jones can continue to serve as a positional mismatch putting defenses in a bind. Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long relished opportunities to deploy a healthy Jones as a second running back due to his threefold abilities as a rusher, receiver and blocker. With him lined up with Adams, defenses truly did not know what type of play could be coming. Long’s ideal will presumably have Jones in a similar role alongside Williams.

With junior receiver Equanimeous St. Brown declaring for the NFL Draft on Thursday, Notre Dame now awaits for decisions from three more juniors: linebacker Te’von Coney, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and tight end Alizé Mack. They have until Jan. 15.

From Adams’ Instagram

Notre Dame’s leading receiver, Equanimeous St. Brown, heads to the NFL

Associated Press

Notre Dame junior receiver Equanimeous St. Brown will heed his father’s advice and head to the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining. Each of the past two seasons, St. Brown led the Irish in receiving yards and receptions, also leading in caught touchdowns last year while finishing second in that category this season to sophomore receiver Kevin Stepherson.

“Three years ago I decided to attend the best University in the world, Notre Dame,” St. Brown posted to Twitter on Thursday. “I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities given me and the lessons that the coaches taught me. I’m a better person and player because of it.

“I also want to thank my professors, who challenged me to be a better student, and my mentors, who helped me take the right path. To my teammates, I love you guys. I’ve formed friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. It’s been an honor to play by your side.

“Last, and certainly not least, I want to thank my family for supporting me. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Thank you for everything.

“I’ve wrestled with this decision, but I’ve decided to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft! While my Notre Dame playing career has come to an end, I will come back to complete my degree. That’s a part of this process that was never in question.”

St. Brown ends his Irish career with 92 catches for 1,484 yards and 13 touchdowns, highlighted by a sophomore campaign of 58 catches for 961 yards and nine touchdowns, a rare bright spot amid the dismal 4-8 season. His final Notre Dame touchdown will be a drag route sprung for 75 yards at Stanford in this regular season’s finale.

St. Brown’s length will make some NFL teams at least consider him, though he is not yet a highly-touted Draft prospect. A strong combine and workout season could certainly change that.

Losing St. Brown compounds an Irish issue already apparent, with the odds highly unlikely Stepherson is with the team come fall, currently suspended indefinitely following a shoplifting arrest. Stepherson finished as the third receiver this season in both yards and receptions, and the two playmakers combined for 52 catches, 874 yards and nine touchdowns.

That will leave current sophomore Chase Claypool as the offense’s only proven receiver. He finished 2017 with 29 catches for 402 yards and two touchdowns, breaking loose for nine of those receptions, 180 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest at the start of November.

After Claypool, attention could quickly turn to freshman Michael Young and junior Miles Boykin, they of the two fourth-quarter Citrus Bowl touchdowns.

St. Brown has a younger brother, Amon-Ra, highly-rated in the recruiting class of 2018 who has Notre Dame among his three finalists, along with USC and Stanford. The tea leaves continue to point toward the youngest St. Brown becoming a Trojan.

And one last time, the full name is Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown. No, the “J.” is not technically short for anything.

The Irish continue to wait for NFL-or-stay decisions from four juniors: running back Josh Adams, tight end Alize Mack, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and linebacker Te’von Coney. They have until Jan. 15.

Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko leaves for Texas A&M


After just one season at Notre Dame, defensive coordinator Mike Elko will leave the Irish to accept the same position with Texas A&M.

“We appreciate [Elko’s] work and effort over the last year with our program and wish him the best moving forward,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement shortly after the first reports of Elko’s decision Thursday afternoon. “Notre Dame simply attracts people at the top of their profession, and, with a young and talented football team coming back in 2018, we’ll certainly add our next great defensive coordinator in very short order.”

Elko was rumored to be in conversations with Aggies newly-hired head coach Jimbo Fisher, recently of Florida State, the week before the Citrus Bowl on Monday, but Kelly said he expected Elko to be with the Irish coaching staff next season, seemingly ending any concerns. When Texas A&M’s pursuit of LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda ended with Aranda receiving a hefty raise from LSU, Fisher’s focus apparently returned to Elko. The Associated Press’s Ralph Russo reported Elko will likely receive a contract similar to Aranda’s, which reportedly included $10 million guaranteed.

“I am excited to bring one of the top defensive minds in the nation onto our staff here at Texas A&M,” Fisher said in a statement. “No matter where Mike has worked, he has consistently produced defenses that have been among the nation’s best.”

Elko came to the Irish after three seasons at Wake Forest. His one season with Notre Dame can be considered only a successful stint. The Irish held opponents to 21.5 points and 369.2 yards per game, forced 20 turnovers and recorded 24 sacks. A year ago, opponents managed 27.8 points and 378.8 yards per game while offering up only 14 turnovers and getting sacked 14 times.

The most notable individual improvement under Elko came from senior linebacker Drue Tranquill. Finally in a position that fit him, Tranquill recorded 85 tackles including 10.5 for loss with 1.5 sacks, one interception and three fumbles recovered.

The first guess for Elko’s replacement may be current Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston, who also interviewed for the job in the offseason.

UPDATE: Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reported further details about Elko’s deal at Texas A&M.