Mike Jensen, Avery Sebastian

Notre Dame lands Cal graduate transfer Avery Sebastian


Brian Kelly hinted that Notre Dame wasn’t finished adding players to the roster on Signing Day. And on Thursday night, Kelly and the Irish coaching staff shored up one of their major deficiencies by adding Cal graduate transfer Avery Sebastian.

Sebastian has a fifth-year of eligibility remaining after spending the past four years in Berkeley. An achilles injury cost him most of the 2013 season and he played just seven games in 2014 as well. But after graduating in December and spending the past few months at home in Georgia getting healthy, Sebastian is set to play out his eligibility in South Bend.

He’ll immediately add veteran depth at a safety position that looks like the last remaining question mark on the Irish roster. A graduate of Eagle’s Landing Christian High School, where defensive end Isaac Rochell also matriculated from, Sebastian connected with the Irish coaching staff and chose to finish his career at Notre Dame, even without visiting campus.

“I’m extremely blessed to have this opportunity to become a part of the Notre Dame family,” Avery told me, via text. “I look forward to becoming a leader on the team and helping the team get to a national championship.”

That was likely the sales pitch from Brian Kelly, who is still looking to make another roster addition if we’re to take him at his word from last Wednesday. And after being busy reshuffling his coaching staff over the past week, he’ll give whoever is coaching the Irish secondary another safety to work with come June.

Here’s a game-highlight reel from one of Sebastian’s most productive Saturdays in his career, a 14-tackle effort against Arizona State in 2012.


Boise State’s Mike Sanford reportedly joining Notre Dame’s staff

BSU Practice

Just days after losing Tony Alford, it looks like Brian Kelly is making a large move on his offensive coaching staff.

Multiple reports have Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford joining Notre Dame’s offensive staff. First reported by Steve Wiltfong at 247 Sports, Sanford will reportedly be taking the offensive coordinator job, per Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman.

In just one week since Signing Day, Notre Dame’s offensive staff has transformed. After losing Alford to Ohio State and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur to the Atlanta Falcons, Kelly has reportedly added former top assistant Jeff Quinn, who was fired as Buffalo’s head coach seven games into last season. His role is still to be determined.

While most kept an eye on hiring a running backs coach, Sanford’s hiring — especially if it’s as offensive coordinator — would be a big change. Last month, Sanford interviewed with Urban Meyer, and then chose to stay with the Broncos.  At 32, Sanford is viewed as one of the best young minds in college football, with Boise State’s offense ranking ninth in scoring last season, on their way to a 12-2 finish and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona.

Sanford has roots on the West Coast, spending three seasons as an assistant at Stanford, likely a key to recruiting California. His father, Mike Sanford Sr., is the head coach at Indiana State, served as a head coach at UNLV and coordinated Gary Andersen‘s offense at Utah State. He also served as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Utah in 2003 and 2004, when the Utes went 21-2.

Sanford was a quarterback himself at Boise State from 2000-04. He served as Stanford’s recruiting coordinator and coached and coordinated recruiting efforts at Yale, so he knows how to work at a school with high academic standards.

There is nothing official out of South Bend, with the university’s HR process notoriously thorough. While most expected the next hire to be a running backs coach–likely former Irish running back and current USF assistant Autry Denson–Sanford seems like a perfect rabbit from the hat of Kelly, with many wondering how he’d respond to losing a key cog like Alford.

Current offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock just turned down the head coaching job at Central Michigan, making a potential move of Sanford to coordinator a curious one. But Denbrock has filled multiple roles on Kelly’s staff, serving as his defensive coordinator at Grand Valley, coaching defensive line on an interim basis when Mike Elston was seriously ill and working with receivers, offensive linemen and tight ends as well.


Mailbag: Now Open

New Mailbox

Wasn’t this supposed to be a slow week?

We’ve got coaching searches, potential transfers and so much more going on. Spring practice begins in three weeks.

Let’s get a mailbag going. Drop your questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.