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Notre Dame announces Brian VanGorder as defensive coordinator

Brian VanGorder coached linebackers for New York Jets 2013. | Bill Kostroun/AP

Brian VanGorder coached the linebackers for the New York Jets in 2013. | Bill Kostroun/AP

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Updated: February 15, 2014 6:29AM



Brian VanGorder served as Brian Kelly’s defensive coordinator in 1991. The two will be reunited as Kelly officially announced VanGorder’s hire as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator Monday.

VanGorder’s coaching career started in 1989 as the linebackers coach at Grand Valley State while Kelly was the defensive coordinator. VanGorder later became the coordinator in 1991, when Kelly took over as the head coach.

VanGorder takes control of a defense that’s in transition after two of its top underclassmen — linemen Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III — declared for the draft.

Other key losses are linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese and cornerback Bennett Jackson. Fox and Calabrese finished 1-2 in tackles.

Linebacker Jaylon Smith (third in tackles) and cornerback Kei­Varae Russell (fifth) highlight the returnees. Russell and lineman Jarron Jones produced big plays in the Pinstripe Bowl victory against Rutgers, perhaps providing a glimpse for the future.

Notre Dame ranked No. 31 in total defense, surrendering 366.2 yards per game. The Irish finished 27th in scoring defense, giving up 22.4 points.

VanGorder succeeds Bob Diaco, who is now the head coach at UConn.

VanGorder spent the 2013 season as linebackers coach for the New York Jets. He was Auburn’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and spent the previous five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons (the last four as the defensive coordinator). He was also the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2001-04. He coached four first-round picks while with the Bulldogs. The 2004 team finished eighth nationally in total defense and ninth in scoring defense. The 2003 squad ranked third in scoring defense and fourth in total defense.

VanGorder also had stints as a head coach at Wayne State (1992-94) and Georgia Southern (2006). His other stops included one season as the defensive coordinator at Western Illinois (2000).

Kelly mentioned he had a replacement lined up during his news conference following the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl, but he couldn’t make an announcement at the time because the contract had to be finalized.

Reports surfaced later that evening that VanGorder was the choice.

Email: lpope@post-trib.com

Twitter: @lamondpope



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