Irish postpone staff introduction

Brian Kelly will introduce his new staff Monday, a postponement following the death of Rev. Theodore Hesburgh. The Irish will unveil Mike Sanford, Autry Denson, Keith Gilmore and Todd Lyght.

Notre Dame will introduce its new coaching staff on Monday, postponing a planned Friday press conference following the death of former University President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh.

Notre Dame’s four incoming assistant coaches – Mike Sanford, Autry Denson, Keith Gilmore and Todd Lyght – were to be unveiled at noon today inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex by head coach Brian Kelly, wrapping up the program’s nearly month-long staff turnover.

Sanford arrives from Boise State as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, taking a title from Mike Denbrock and the staff position vacated by Matt LaFleur, who left for the Atlanta Falcons. While lauded nationally as a rising star in the coaching community, next season will be just Sanford’s second as an offensive coordinator.

After a two-season stay at North Carolina, Gilmore is expected to coach defensive linemen, a position he held on Kelly’s staff at Cincinnati, with Mike Elston shifting to linebackers. Gilmore also worked under Kelly at Central Michigan and Grand Valley State. His career path crossed Brian VanGorder for one season at Wayne State.

Lyght, a two-time All-American in South Bend, takes over for Kerry Cooks after the five-year Irish assistant made a lateral move to Oklahoma, closer to his roots in Dallas. Notre Dame will be Lyght’s first full-time assistant coaching position following barely a month at Vanderbilt. He spent last season as an assistant defensive backs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Denson, Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher, replaces ace recruiter Tony Alford, who left for the running back and assistant head coaching position at Ohio State earlier this month. Like Lyght, Denson departed his last job after barely a month, moving from Miami of Ohio to South Florida this off-season. He worked under Chuck Martin at Miami last year following three seasons at Bethune-Cookman, located in Daytona Beach.

Denson is expected to fill the void left by Alford in recruiting as well. Before arriving at Bethune-Cookman, Denson was a local high school coach at Pope John Paul II for one season. He’s a graduate of Nova High School in Davie, Fla., located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

With three departures and four arrivals, the remaining change will be Bob Elliott, who’s coached outside linebackers and safeties during his three seasons in South Bend. A source told Irish Illustrated that Elliott would move into a position akin to Special Assistant to the Head Coach to keep the veteran in the program but scale back the workload to accommodate his health. Elliott underwent kidney transplant surgery in 2012.

The staff makeover is the biggest in one off-season under Kelly, topping 2011 when Ed Warinner (Ohio State), Tim Hinton (Ohio State) and Charley Molnar (Massachusetts) all departed. That reshuffle ended with Martin moving from safeties to offensive coordinator, defensive intern Scott Booker taking over tight ends and Harry Hiestand leaving Tennessee for the same position at Notre Dame.


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