Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 17 of 55

18 APRIL 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T ight End U. has a new man to orchestrate the tradition. John McNulty was hired this winter by head coach Brian Kelly to instruct the Notre Dame tight ends, a position held the past three years by Chip Long, who also was the offensive coordinator. After a divorce from the Fighting Irish staff in Decem- ber, Long will serve as an analyst at the University of Tennessee in 2020. "In the interviewing process, what I really liked about his presentation was his focus solely on teaching the techniques and his experience work- ing with multiple tight ends," head coach Brian Kelly said of hiring Mc- Nulty. "I thought last year when your offensive coordinator was the tight end coach, the guy that gets left out sometimes is the tight end because he has so many other responsibilities that that position in itself required much more focus and attention." Fourth-year quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace Long, while second-year running backs coach Lance Taylor will serve as the run game coordinator. Although McNulty's job title centers on the tight ends, the 1990 Penn State graduate with 29 years of coaching experience — 15 in the NFL, including two coaching tight ends for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers in 2016-17 — possesses even more involvement working with quarter- backs and wide receivers. McNulty's background is vital both because of the talent lost in potential first-round pick Cole Kmet opting to bypass his senior year in 2020 and es- pecially the promise the position holds with junior Tommy Tremble (16 catches for 183 yards and four touchdowns last year), senior Brock Wright — the top-rated recruit in Notre Dame's 2017 class — and junior George Takacs, plus incoming freshmen Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman. A walk-on safety from 1988-90 with the Nittany Lions, McNulty's coaching career began right after his graduation. From 1991-94, he served as a grad- uate assistant at Michigan. Playing outside linebacker at that time was Mike Elston, who has been on the Fighting Irish staff since 2010. Then, from 1995-97, McNulty served as the wide receivers coach and spe- cial teams coordinator at Connecticut under coach Skip Holtz. The Huskies were 20-13 during his time in Storrs. He joined the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars from 1998-2002 and handled quality control on offense while also coaching wide receivers. McNulty worked under future two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Coughlin, with the 1999 Jaguars finishing the regular season 14-2 before losing in the AFC championship game. In 2003, McNulty was the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers coach un- der first-year head coach Bill Parcells. The Cowboys followed three straight 5-11 finishes with a 10-6 mark and made the playoffs. McNulty returned to the college ranks and mentored quarterbacks and wide receivers at Rutgers from 2004-08, plus served as the offensive coordinator in 2007-08. Working for head coach Greg Schi- ano, who he met at Penn State, Rutgers rose to prominence, highlighted by an 11-2 record and No. 12 finish in 2006. With McNulty as the offensive co- ordinator, the 2007 Scarlet Knights finished 8-5 and became the first pro- gram in Football Bowl Subdivision history to have a 3,000-yard passer in Mike Teel, a 2,000-yard rusher in Ray Rice, and two 1,000-yard wide receivers in Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood. That Rutgers team aver- aged 32.8 points per game. From 2009-12, he joined Ken Whisenhunt's staff with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals and coached quar- terbacks and wide receivers. In 2013, McNulty reunited with for- mer Rutgers head coach Schiano for one season and coached quarterbacks for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He moved on to the NFL's Tennes- see Titans and coached quarterbacks from 2014-15, with Marcus Mariota earning All-Rookie honors. In 2016-17, McNulty joined the Chargers and instructed tight ends. He coached future Hall-of-Famer An- tonio Gates and Hunter Henry, who is one of the rising young tight ends in the game. McNulty returned to Rutgers to serve as the offensive coordina- tor and quarterbacks coach from 2018-19, but this stint did not match the first while undergoing a massive rebuild in the Big Ten. After a 1-11 mark in 2018 and a 1-4 start in 2019, head coach Chris Ash (now the defensive coordinator at the University of Texas) and McNulty were both fired, leading McNulty to move on to his alma mater Penn State to finish out the balance of the season as an analyst. ✦ ExpEriEncEd Addition New tight ends coach John McNulty also has an extensive background instructing quarterbacks and wide receivers McNulty, who was hired to coach tight ends at Notre Dame, brings a wealth of experience on the offensive side of the ball. He also has spent more than half of his 29-year coaching career in the NFL. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER

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