Autry Denson

Meet Autry Denson


Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher is now in charge of coaching the position. Autry Denson‘s return to South Bend comes at the perfect time, with Brian Kelly looking to find the right coach and personality to replace Tony Alford on the coaching staff.

After interviewing a collection of candidates, Kelly picked Denson, a choice he wasn’t necessarily inclined to make.

“Autry came up immediately, because of his background here as the all‑time leading rusher, and quite frankly his background as a Notre Dame student‑athlete gave him a chance at an interview,” Kelly said on Monday. “I really didn’t think I was going to hire him, quite honestly, until he interviewed.  He blew me away in the interview.

“His attention to detail at the running back position, techniques, how he was teaching the running backs, the depth and knowledge at the position both in the run game and the pass game.  His philosophy matched mine in terms of development of the student‑athlete both on and off the field.”

Let’s take a closer look at Denson’s resume, some quotes from the enthusiastic Florida native now living his dream back at Notre Dame and his introductory video.


Autry Denson
2014 — University of South Florida, Running Backs
2011-13 – Bethune-Cookman, Running Backs
2010 – Pope John Paul II High School, Head Coach




On the hectic time between USF and Notre Dame:

“It was very interesting. From the time I got into coaching, this was my dream job. So I heard it was open and here’s the funny thing about it … I heard about it at 1:30 or 2 p.m. and our furniture for the relocation to USF wasn’t even getting there until 3:30 p.m. so I had to take a deep breath and say a quick prayer before I approached my wife. I went in with caution, but of course she was excited as well.”

On his philosophy as a coach: 

“I just talked about my philosophy. The X’s and O’s are the same, it’s what you bring to the table. Who I am as a coach, this is my ministry. This is how I mentor young men. I was blessed that the game of football raised me, it taught me a lot of invaluable life lessons. I’ve had so many great coaches around me – Urban Meyer, Desmond Robinson, Lou Holtz and Tony Dungy, that for me it’s very natural for me to do what I’m doing because all those people have taken the time to work with me. So I’m basically returning and playing back what they’ve done for me.”

On returning to Notre Dame: 

“It’s so exciting. It’s amazing. I can’t stop smiling because you really don’t get this opportunity, it really doesn’t come (around very often). I realize how blessed I am. I’m ready to get in and work and do everything I can to help the University and help our team get to a national championship.”




Here’s Denson’s introductory video from



(When Denson breaks off the long run against Michigan in 1998, if you listen carefully, you might hear a much younger version of this writer “experiencing” his first game inside Notre Dame Stadium.)



Meet Keith Gilmore

Keith Gilmore

Notre Dame’s new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore was introduced yesterday, a reunion for Gilmore with former boss Brian Kelly and former college teammates Brian VanGorder and Paul Longo.

Here’s a look at Gilmore’s resume, some quotes from yesterday, and a video from to give you a closer look at the coach’s personality.


Keith Gilmore

2013 – North Carolina Defensive Line Coach
2009-12 – Illinois Defensive Line Coach
2007-08 – Cincinnati Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line
2006 – Central Michigan Defensive Line Coach
2002-05 – Howard Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
1998-2001 – Norfolk State Defensive Line/Running Backs/Special Teams
1995-97 – Eastern Michigan Running Backs Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
1994 – Wayne State Running Backs Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
1991-93 – Grand Valley State Linebackers/Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator
1989-90 – Northern Michigan Running Backs
1988 – Michigan State Graduate Assistant
1985-87 – Wayne State Linebackers/Running Backs



On reuniting with Brian Kelly, Brian VanGorder and Paul Longo:

“It was a big part of it. Just the comfort level of knowing the people you’re around was important to me. The biggest thing was that every time I’ve won a championship, I’ve been with Coach Kelly and I like winning. So that opportunity to get back with him and know people that are here and share their philosophies was important to me.”

On his success getting defensive linemen to the NFL: 

“One, good players. Just the fundamentals and the technique and learning how to execute and practice on a daily basis. A lot of people can be good sporadically, but to be good day in and day out and to understand that part of it is the message that I’ve tried to get across to those guys. Just making sure that they are sound fundamentally. Nothing beats getting off the football and using your hands and turning and running … just the things that it takes on a day-to-day basis and paying attention to those details every day.”


Here’s Gilmore from’s introductory video: 

Notre Dame formalizes coaching staff shakeup

Purdue v Notre Dame

After weeks of speculation, Brian Kelly has announced his coaching staff for the 2015 season. The result is four new assistants, a few new assignments and the homecoming of a handful of former Irish stars.

Kelly will speak with the media shortly, but his coaching staff has been made official:

2015 Notre Dame Football Coaching Staff
Brian Kelly – Head Coach
Mike Denbrock – Associate Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Brian VanGorder – Defensive Coordinator
Mike Sanford – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Mike Elston – Recruiting Coordinator/Linebackers
Scott Booker – Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
Autry Denson – Running Backs
Keith Gilmore – Defensive Line
Harry Hiestand – Offensive Line
Todd Lyght – Defensive Backs
Maurice Crum Jr., Mike Hiestand – Graduate Assistants for Defense
Ryan Mahaffey, Donovan Raiola – Graduate Assistants for Offense

Moving off the field will be veteran assistant Bob Elliott, who is now the Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Also of interest is the reassignment of Denbrock, who received a “promotion” to Associate Head Coach, even if most see this as a step backwards for Kelly’s long-time lieutenant.

(Denbrock is listed second on the staff roster, basically an org chart released by

Mike Elston is moving up the ladder to the recruiting coordinator. He’ll shift to coach linebackers this spring, now in charge of a defensive position group that’s likely the Irish’s deepest and most dynamic after this recruiting class.

Coming home to Notre Dame are former stars Lyght and Denson. Also joining them is former Irish captain Crum, who will be a graduate assistant for the Irish, along with Ron Powlus, who will become Notre Dame’s director of Player Development.