Notre Dame officially announced the hiring of three new assistant coaches to Brian Kelly’s first staff on Tuesday – Chuck Martin, Mike Elston, and Mike Denbrock. Each had quotes about their immediate plans in the official press releases from the University. Here’s a look at what each of the three new coaches will be doing as they hit the ground running on closing out the 2010 recruiting class.
Mike Denbrock – Tight Ends Coach
“I’m already out on the road recruiting. I’m looking to make sure that some of the commitments Notre Dame has received remain committed while also working to get as many of the young men as we have targeted. I’m looking forward to sitting down with them and their families and present the mission of the University of Notre Dame. I want to make sure those young men know there is a quality education and a tremendous football program waiting for them to be a part of.”
Irish Sports Daily reported earlier on Tuesday that Denbrock was going to meet with the parents of five star offensive tackle recruit Seantrel Henderson which makes sense considering he said he was already on the road recruiting. Brian Kelly said that Denbrock will be the lead recruiter for the Irish staff on the West Coast so it’s possible that he could be headed out west at some point in the near future to visit with the two west coast commits – Justin Utupo (outside linebacker/defensive end) and Cameron Roberson (running back) – but that is just speculation at this point. Notre Dame is still pursuing other west coast targets as well such as Anthony Barr (athlete), Deitrich Riley (safety), Sean Parker (safety), Josh Shirley (linebacker), and Hayes Pullard (linebacker). How much ground Denbrock can make up with some of these recruits remains to be seen, but if he is going to lead West Coast recruiting, he’ll likely be focusing on some of these recruits.
Mike Elston – Defensive Line
“Right now the plan is to hit the road and tie up some loose ends on a few of the committed players. I might potentially follow some leads on kids we had evaluated at Cincinnati but were either out of our reach or have recently reopened their recruiting based on other coaching changes or different circumstances. So I imagine I’ll be flying around the country here a little bit towards the end of the week and potentially ending up in San Antonio on Saturday.”
It’s not clear who exactly Elston could be referring to here, but over the last few days a lot of new names have popped up on Notre Dame’s radar so Elston could be pretty busy. One possibility could be Cincinnati commitment Jibreel Black. Mike Dyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweeted that Kelly requested the transcripts for the defensive lineman from Wyoming High School. It’s not clear whether or not Black would consider the Irish, but based off of Dyers tweet it sounds like Notre Dame will at least make an attempt to lure Black to South Bend.
Kelly said that Elston would be working in Florida with Tony Aflord moving forward so it’s possible that Giovanni Bernard (running back) could be one of the committed players he is slotted to visited. The other Florida commitments seem more than solid considering Louis Nix (defensive tackle) committed without a head coach and with Spencer Boyd (defensive back) and Lo Wood (defensive back) set to start their Notre Dame careers next week.
There are several Florida prospects left on the board for Notre Dame that Elston could be assisting with as well. Tom Lemming was quoted in the South Bend Tribune stating Notre Dame could target Kadron Boone (wide receiver), a Florida native and Texas Tech commitment. Christian Jones (linebacker) and Dionte Ponder (defensive back) are two other Florida area recruits Notre Dame is still in on.
Chuck Martin – Defensive Backs
“I’m going to head right to Chicago to visit a couple kids we have committed and a couple other kids we are working on trying to get committed. I think we are going to take inventory in the middle of the week. Obviously it is a mad scramble with all of the other staff members coming on board and I think we’ll stay in constant communication with Coach Kelly on where we’re going next. I’m prepared to go anywhere next. I know Chicago is my main area but I’m willing to go recruit anywhere in the country to find players for Notre Dame.”
The only Chicago area kids committed to Notre Dame right now are Christian Lombard (offensive tackle) and Tommy Rees (quarterback) with Corey Cooper (wide receiver/safety) and Bruce Gaston (defensive tackle) the only remaining prospects in the Chicago area for the Irish. Cooper is a very important recruit for Notre Dame with most of its top safety prospects either committed elsewhere or no longer considering the Irish. Gatson is another key recruit because of his ability to play in the middle of a 3-4 defense and his considerable upside.
The entire coaching staff is going to be burning the midnight oil over the next month as they attempt to salvage this class and close out strong with the prospects still considering the Irish.