DL Mike Elston // Notre Dame Defensive Line Coach
- HOMETOWN: Saint Marys, OH
- YEARS AT NOTRE DAME: 2010-Present
- ALMA MATER: Michigan
Mike Elston, whose coaching career dates back more than two decades, currently serves as both Notre Dame’s associate head coach and defensive line assistant. He was born November 1, 1974 and lettered for three seasons as an outside linebacker with the Michigan Wolverines from 1994-96.
Rising in the Ranks
After four seasons as a member of Michigan’s coaching staff, Elston then served for three years as an assistant at Eastern Michigan. In his final season with the Eagles in 2003, he was a key facet of helping the team’s defense into the most improved unit in terms of total yards allowed and scoring.
In 2004 he joined Brian Kelly’s staff at Central Michigan, commencing a run that’s set to begin its 16th consecutive year. Elston moved along to Kelly’s Cincinnati coaching staff in 2007 and spent three seasons there. He concluded his tenure by not only coaching the second-best kickoff return unit in the nation, but helping the Bearcats to a 12-1 season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Shifting Roles with the Irish
After Kelly was hired at Notre Dame, he named Elston as the Irish’s defensive line coach on January 5, 2010. In his first two seasons, Elston also served as special teams coordinator before handling the line exclusively for the next three campaigns.
On March 2, 2015, Elston’s role shifted when he was named both Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach. His tutelage of the latter unit was a nod to his collegiate playing days, with his return to coaching the Irish defensive line coming two years later.
It was at that time that Elston was also tabbed as associate head coach, serving in Kelly’s role when the head coach is unavailable. However, it was Elston’s impact on the defensive line in 2017 that saw each member of the starting line achieve career-highs in sacks, tackles, tackles-for-loss.
That success was a precursor to a defensive line that excelled during the undefeated 2018 regular season. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery flourished, while players like Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem thrived under Elston’s leadership.
(Photo: Rich Kane/Icon Sportswire)