Harry Hiestand Building a Legacy at Notre Dame

Harry Hiestand - Notre Dame OL Coach
Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

When Harry Hiestand was added to the Notre Dame coaching staff following the departure of Ed Warriner to Ohio State after the 2011 season, his hiring wasn’t met with a whole lot of fanfare.  Three years later, it’s safe to say that Hiestand very well could be the single best assistant coaching hiring Brian Kelly has made since being named the head coach at Notre Dame.

Since his arrival at Notre Dame the offensive line has, for the most part, been a source of strength for the Irish.  In 2012 the offensive line paved the way to a title game berth behind a run heavy offense.  In 2013, the Irish line kept Tommy Ress’s jersey clean by allowing just eight sacks while protecting one of the least mobile quarterbacks in recent Notre Dame history.  Last year’s line had it’s struggles early before Hiestand and Kelly shuffled the deck a bit, but by the end of the season the line opened up enough running lanes for the Irish to run for 263 yards on a stout LSU defense in the Music City Bowl.

While his lines have played well over the first three years, it’s the future of the Irish offensive line that has Irish eyes smiling the most.  Brian Kelly spoke glowingly of his offensive line on Saturday following the 2015 Blue & Gold game and many believe the Irish offensive line has the chance to be elite this fall.

“I think for me it was pretty clear that we’ve got a very good offensive line.  They’re going to be able to control the line of scrimmage in most instances and we’ll continue to go to our strength, which we believe is up front,” Kelly said on Saturday.

The reason for that optimism isn’t just the coaching of Hiestand but the work that Hiestand has done on the recruiting trail to build the Irish offensive trenches.

Just this past weekend, Notre Dame collected a commitment from elite class of 2016 offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg after already having secured a commitment from Tommy Kraemer – another elite tackle who some consider to be a 5-star recruit.  For both recruits, Notre Dame, led by Hiestand, went head to head with Urban Meyer and Warriner at Ohio State for elite offensive linemen from Ohio and came out on top.

Hiestand has already helped Notre Dame secure one of the nation’s elite offensive linemen for the class of 2017 already as well in Dillan Gibbons.

Recruiting wins for Hiestand though should come as no surprise.  His work on the recruiting front has amassed more talent along the offensive line for Notre Dame than the Irish have had since the days of Joe Moore.

Last year Hiestand was the primary recruiter for Tristen Hoge, Trevor Ruhland, and Jerry Tillery.  At the time of their signing it was considered a great trio although Tillery has since moved to the defensive line where he’s drawn rave reviews.  Keith Gillmore will likely be getting Hiestand his morning coffee for a little while for inheriting Tillery.

Two years ago Hiestand was credited with the recruitment of Alex Bars, Jimmy Byrne, Quenton Nelson, and Sam Mustipher.  The year before he hauled in Steve Elmer, Hunter Bivin, Mike McGlinchey, and John Montelus.   And those are just the offensive recruits.   247 Sports also credits Hiestand with the recruitment of Shaun Crawford, Josh Adams, and Will Fuller.

Of all of the recruits he’s been credited with specifically on the offensive line, only Ruhland was widely considered less than a 4-star prospect.  Another thing they all have in common is their praise for Hiestand.

Hiestand hasn’t been all recruiting though.  Since his arrival several Notre Dame offensive linemen have more than just reached their potential.  Under Hiestand’s guidance for two seasons, Zack Marin played his way to a 1st round draft selection.  Chris Watt was taken two rounds later in the same draft.   Then there’s Ronnie Stanley.  Stanley could have been a 1st round pick this year potentially despite reportedly receiving a 2nd round evaluation, but he returned for his senior season and could end up being a top 10 pick next spring if he stays healthy.

Harry Hiestand still has a long way to go to reach Joe Moore status, but he is trending in that direction after just two full seasons on the job.  He’s helped stocked the Notre Dame offensive line with elite talent and has coached that talent to reach their potential all while being one of the least assuming elite recruiters in the country.  He’s not a smooth talking, slick dressing salesman.  He’s a no-nonsense, genuine old school football coach and that personality has been a perfect fit for the offensive line coach at Notre Dame.

If Notre Dame makes a serious run at the playoffs this year, it will be behind the line that Hiestand has built.  That line still has some work to do between now and the fall, but all of the pieces are in place for the Irish to have the kind of line that could pave the way to a playoff run.

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13 Comments

  1. This is to Mr. Ron Burgundy. Evidently I rattled your cage. You said I am inane. Were the hell are you from? Around here we spell it insane. This just shows how of a bright individual that I am dealing with. I never said written commitments did I? I CLEARLY STATED COMMITMENTS. All were verbal but one. DID I ONCE SAY 2017 WRITTEN COMITMENTS!!!!!!!!!!! TOSE EXCLAMATION’S WERE JUST FOR YOUR DUMB ASS. N.D. has a lot of weapons at wide receiver, and Goldson has A strong enough arm to hit any of them any were down field. But who’s to say he’s our starter? So let me take you back to the strength of our offense. It is our offensive line, Therefore run first pass second. What do you not get about that? Or what is it you do not understand? I eagerly await your all so brilliant replay. Yours truly smarter than you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. for someone to call another person A druggy, he is trying to get the light of himself. I hope you do get help for your addiction. All wait A minute you can’t help stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!IDIOT.

  2. Who’s Durango?

    Wasn’t he one of “The Three Amigos”?
    (Durango, Dusty Bottoms, and little Ned Nederlander???)

  3. Apparently it is Internet day at the methadone clinic as JT has decided to enlighten us.
    Exactly how much time does it take to keep up with the one commitment ND has for 2017. I’m sorry this site moves too fast for you but the coffee comment had nothing to do with your views but rather the scatter brain thoughts, noise level and use of exclamation points you seem to employ.

    Happy you are here as I eagerly anticipate more of your inane ramblings. BJ has been noticeably absent so you can fill the void. Do you happen to know how to paste links of you tube videos?

  4. To Mister Ron Burgundy for your information it’s not coffee, Its reality! WE are back to were we once were. You must not keep up with our new commitments for 2017. If we don’t win the championship this year, it is going to come very shortly, As I stated before as long as the players buy in, and believe in what there coaches teach them we will win A championship. As I stated before our power on offence will be, Are you ready for this? ” listen close run first pass second!” you got all that. And as far as what Durango said in his last paragraph he hit the nail on the head, You IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE ND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. My three favorite plays of the Holtz era were:

    (1) the run by Pat Eilers, late of Yale, on the goal line against Miami for a TD
    (1A) the beautiful reverse by Adrian Jarrell in the first half aginst FSU, again for a TD
    (3) any time rocket ran the ball from tailback in the fourth quarter, after a defense was leg weary.

    On another matter, I am shocked by what a nervous Nellie Bryan Driskell is. There’s a reason he’s no longer coaching, and bouncing around from website to website. He begins in fear, not hope, focusing on what can go wrong and what don’t we know rather than problem solving, player development and making it happen. It is laughable to me when people talk about our suboptimzations. Hey, it’s college football and in the average year you lose 20-25% of your roster. So you leave Spring with players who have to improve, on the field, in the weight room and in technique, communication and the like.

    PLAYER DEVELOPMENT. In college football it is do or die.

    Heck, last year we had 7 frosh who arrived in June play on the defense (Tranquill, Hill, Morgan, Martini, Hayes, Cage, Blankenship) in quality time. The guys who played THIS SPRING have a foundation to build on. This staff just does not miss on player development.

  6. If you look at last year’s National Champion (offensively) you will see that they gained 3,700 yards passing and 3.900 yards rushing.

    That’s a balanced offense.

    Looking at this year’s Fighting Irish football team, ND certainly has the players to do the same.

  7. I think ND will be absolutely fine if they stick to run first pass second. But time and after time I have watch ND run the football down teams throats in the first half, and in the second half want to pass. If it’s not broke don’t fix it! our strength is going to be punishing smash mouth football! Yea it’s good to get a 50yrd pass completion but that only happens after 100 or so yards running down hill to draw the 11 d-line players in the box. It absolutely drives me insane when they score a 80 yard drive and have a defense on there heels, Then come out 3 passes later punt. Yes you have to mix it up, but in the past they would either run or they would pass, Almost committed if you would. This season all I ask of my Beloved IRISH is to use there tools wisely. say for instance it’s 4th and a half a yard on opponents 43 and coach Kelly decides to go for it, after say being stopped running the ball 2 times in a row. Now you’ve got them right were you want them. There going to load the box. Pull a page out of the great and wise LOU HOLTZ play book. Play action in goal line Offense fling the ball down field to a wide open receiver who was pretending to block! ND is going to make a BIG statement this year, And that is were good, Were going to be good for years to come. NOW DEAL WITH IT!!!!!! WE ARE N.D.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE IRISH FOOTBALL.I LIVE TO ROOT FOR MY IRSH. WE WILL BE NATION CHAMPS IF THE PLAYERS WILL LISTION TO THE GREAT COACHES THAT BRIAN KELLEY HAS PUT TO HIS STAFF. SOME ARE ND GREATS.

  8. Sean — The Music City Bowl was one game. I credit the OL for a good performance there. And I’m not knocking Heistand here. I’m just saying I’d like to see better and more consistent performances on the field before crowning Hiestand. It’s been a mixed bag performance-wise so far, but I’m actually very optimistic moving forward.

  9. I agree with Lou. It seemed to me that at times, the Irish (Bryant for example) would start to pick up yards on the ground, and then stop (they’d sit Bryant). The Irish need to play smash-mouth football with the O-Line and RB’s that they have. I’m liking the D too. Still would like to see production on special teams and an end to the sloppy play and dumb penalties.

    GO IRISH!

  10. As good as the Oline has been the past few years they been at a disadvantage in that the offense has been pass heavy and they haven’t had a consistent chance to oppose their will on teams. Last years line was probably the worst that HH has coached, but once the staff made a concerted effort to focus on the run they were able to push around the top defense in the SEC. Doesn’t matter how good an Oline is, but if the defense can pin their ears back and not worry about the run, it can be hard to block anyone.

  11. Really? On Field performance? McGlinchey in the face of LSU’s best defensive player flaunting our success meanwhile Harry and Brian Kelly screaming at one another is perfect! Now let Malik run with the rock!

  12. Eh. I think he needs a stronger on-field performance before I’m willing to jump fully on the bandwagon. He’s recruited well. He has prepared guys for the next level. If he really produces the “elite unit” that “many believe” he will in 2015, I’ll be there.

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