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Irish, Kelly fill void at defensive coordinator

– Notre Dame has a new coach to lead its defense.

Brian VanGorder was officially named the Irish’s defensive coordinator by coach Brian Kelly in a news release Monday. Kelly and VanGorder will speak at a news conference at 3 p.m. today.

VanGorder replaces Bob Diaco, who left Notre Dame after four seasons to become the head coach at Connecticut. The Irish’s desire to hire VonGorder was first reported by NFL.com and CBS Sports after the team’s 29-16 win over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28.

VanGorder comes to Notre Dame after spending last season as the New York Jets linebackers coach, and he has 13 years of experience being a defensive coordinator in college and the NFL.

VanGorder also has a history with Kelly, serving on the Grand Valley State coach staff along with Kelly from 1989-91. VanGorder was Grand Valley State’s defensive coordinator in 1991 after handling the team’s linebackers in 1989 and 1990.

VanGorder was also the defensive coordinator at Central Michigan in 1998-99, Western Illinois in 2000, Georgia from 2001-04 and Auburn in 2012.

VanGorder won the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award while at Georgia in 2003 after the Bulldogs finished third nationally in scoring defense (15.1 points a game) and fourth in total defense (303.5 yards a game). Diaco won the Broyles award after the 2012 season.

He was also the defensive coordinator for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons from 2007-11, and he coached linebackers for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005.

VanGorder has 25 years of coaching experience, which includes four seasons as a college head coach. He was the coach of Division II Wayne State, his alma mater, from 1992-94 and Georgia Southern in 2006.

Notre Dame is still searching for a replacement at offensive coordinator after Chuck Martin left to become the head coach at Miami (Ohio). Kelly was expected to interview Irish wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock, Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn and former Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges on Monday for the open position, according to Blue and Gold Illustrated.

Denbrock was the Irish’s interim offensive coordinator for the Pinstripe Bowl.

tkrausz@jg.net

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