Notre Dame Reportedly Set to Name John McNulty New TE Coach

Notre Dame still has not officially rounded out its 2020 coaching staff following the departures of Chip Long and Todd Lyght, but they have reportedly taken a step towards filling one of those roles according to a report from Irish Illustrated.  Per the report, Notre Dame is set to name John McNulty, the next tight ends coach filling one of the two vacancies created when Brian Kelly fired chip Long in December.

McNulty comes to Notre Dame after spending a year at his alma mater as an offensive analyst on James  Franklin’s staff at Penn State. McNulty, a native of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, played safety for the Nittany Lions from 1988-90.  McNulty filled that role after being let go, along with head coach Chris Ash, from Rutgers, where he served as offensive coordinator from 2018-19 – his second stint at Rutgers.  His first was much more successful as part of Greg Schiano’s staff from 2004-2008.  As the offensive coordinator in 2007, McNulty guided the Scarlett Knights to school records in total offense (5,841 yards), points scored (421), and first downs (295).

In between his two stints at Rutgers, McNulty spent nine years in the NFL as a position coach, where he coached a couple of future Hall of Famers.   As the QB/WR coach in Arizona from 2009-12, he coached sure-fire Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.  After stops in Tampa Bay and Tennessee, he landed in San Diego as tight ends coach, where he worked with future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates and rising star Hunter Henry.  While with the Chargers, he also had a chance to work with current Notre Dame offensive coordinator, Tommy Rees.  At the time, Rees was just an offensive assistant.

Here’s a quick review of his entire coaching resume before we get into his fit with Notre Dame.

  • 1991–1994 Michigan (GA)
  • 1995–1997 Connecticut (WR/ST)
  • 1998–2002 Jacksonville Jaguars (OQC/WR)
  • 2003 Dallas Cowboys (WR)
  • 2004–2008 Rutgers (OC/QB/WR)
  • 2009–2012 Arizona Cardinals (QB/WR)
  • 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (QB)
  • 2014–2015 Tennessee Titans (QB)
  • 2016–2017 SD/LA Chargers (TE)
  • 2018–2019 Rutgers (OC/QB)
  • 2019 Penn State (Analyst)

With nearly 30 years of coaching experience, it looks like Brian Kelly was looking for someone with extensive experience to surround his new young, first-time OC.  Aside from overall experience, McNulty brings familiarity with Rees and experience as an offensive coordinator at the college level from his stops in Rutgers.

What it seems Kelly did not prioritize with this particular hire, anyway, is recruiting prowess.   McNulty has spent much more of his career on the professional level, and his experience recruiting at Rutgers is nothing compared to what will be expected of him recruiting at Notre Dame. Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.   Lance Taylor and Tommy Rees are both considered to be very strong, almost elite recruiters.  Jeff Quinn, for all his questions as an offensive line coach, has been recruiting at a higher level than anyone could have expected. And Del Vaughn Alexander has been landing elite wide receivers with regularity the last couple of years.

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Surrounding Rees with another coach who has been an offensive coordinator has a lot of value for this staff.  That said, McNulty’s first primary task, once all the fun Notre Dame HR processes are completed, should be reaching out to Cane Berrong and making sure he develops a relationship with the elite 2021 commit.

McNulty inherits a very talented, albeit relatively inexperienced, tight end room at Notre Dame with senior Brock Wright and junior Tommy Tremble; the only returning tight ends with much experience.

There is still one open assistant position on the Notre Dame coaching staff in the secondary to replace Todd Lyght.  It’s still unclear how Brian Kelly will handle filling that vacancy since current safeties coach Terry Joseph has experience coaching corners as well, which gives him some flexibility here.

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