Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2022 19 Mike McGlinchey (San Francisco 49ers, 2018). In 2017, Nelson and McGlinchey — both top-10 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft — helped Hiestand and Notre Dame win the Joe Moore Award as the best offen- sive line in the country. And in 2019, Martin, Stanley and Nel- son claimed three of the five first-team spots on that season's NFL All-Pro of- fensive line. Overall, six of Hiestand's Irish linemen were drafted in the first three rounds, while for comparison sake, only two Notre Dame linemen total were selected in the first three rounds of the previous 11 drafts before Hiestand's arrival. "Harry built the standard of excel- lence for the Notre Dame offensive line, and we are excited to have him back in our program," first-year Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said in a writ- ten statement. "Our focus is on player development and pushing our players to reach their full potential, and that is where Harry excels." Hiestand replaces outgoing Irish of- fensive line coach Jeff Quinn, who re- placed Hiestand in 2018. And while offensive line recruiting didn't slip under Quinn, performance did. Notre Dame finished the 2021 season with the second-worst rushing average during the 12-year era of former head coach Brian Kelly at 4.13 yards per carry. " Co m m u n i ca t i o n h a s go t to b e sharper," Patterson explained when asked what will be at the root of im- provement in 2022. "Really, we just have to get the call and be confident in that call, trusting that the guy next to you is gonna do their job. "You can't try to do someone else's job. … That's the thing we gotta empha- size, not trying to do too much." A no-bull, no-excuses, no-shortcut kind of coach, Hiestand inherits a nice blend of experienced players and elite recruits with rising sophomores Blake Fisher and Joe Alt set to start at the two tackle positions, rising junior Andrew Kristofic likely back at starting left guard, along with Lugg and Patterson. Patterson was a team captain in 2021 and is rated by Pro Football Focus this preseason as the nation's top returning interior offensive lineman for 2022. Sophomore-to-be Rocco Spindler is another valuable piece to this offensive line puzzle. He's expected to compete with Kristofic and Lugg for one of the starting guard spots. Without mentioning specific names, Patterson suggested that the hiring of Hiestand will lead to seamless and no- table improvements in 2022. While the Irish offensive line sta- bilized as last season unfolded, it still finished 100th nationally in pass pro- tection (2.69 sacks allowed per game) and only 83rd in rushing offense (143.8 yards per game), even with All-Ameri- can Kyren Williams at tailback. "You get to learn all these new phi- losophies, techniques and ideas that you can take from your previous coach and combine that and make yourself a better player," Patterson said of his approach to spending his last season at Notre Dame working under a new position coach. Even after leaving Notre Dame in 2018 for what ended in a nondescript two- year stop with the Chicago Bears, Hies- tand never severed ties with his former campus or community. Hiestand is routinely asked for ad- vice, and graciously grants those re- quests from the former Irish players he helped put in the NFL. Pete Sampson of The Athletic shared a story from 2018 of Hiestand as line coach with the Bears even providing some advice to McGlinchey during Chi- cago's game against the 49ers. "Harry's the kind of guy who will move mountains for you," McGlinchey explained in the story. "Once you're close with him, he'll go to war for you, no matter what." During his two-year career gap between the Bears and his second tour of duty at Notre Dame, Hiestand also counseled some of the final players he recruited to play for him in college, including eventual 2021 NFL picks Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks and Robert Hainsey, all of whom went in the top three rounds. Hiestand's loyalty and appreciation stretches from football to family. Even while coaching the Bears, Hi- estand kept his family rooted locally so that his daughter could finish high school in South Bend. And as one additional measure of loyalty and familiarity, Hiestand is ex- pected to bring back former Irish line- man Chris Watt as an understudy and valuable assistant/analyst. Under Hiestand's tutelage, Watt, an Irish offensive guard, became a third- round draft pick in 2014. After a four-year injury-filled NFL career, Watt — a rising star in the coaching business — later returned to campus to serve under Jeff Quinn as a Notre Dame graduate assistant in 2019- 20 before working the last two seasons as offensive line coach at Tulane. "Straight" and "sincere" were two words that Lugg used when asked what made Hiestand stand out during the re- cruiting process all those years ago. "Other coaches were like, 'Good morning Josh, come here to our school,'" Lugg recalled. "Coach Hiestand was like, 'Make sure you're doing this, make sure you're respecting your teachers.' All of those were details to prepare me for Notre Dame so that I would mold into the Notre Dame offensive lineman he wants us all to become." ✦ "Our focus is on player development and pushing our players to reach their full potential, and that is where Harry excels." HEAD COACH MARCUS FREEMAN ON HIESTAND HARRY HIESTAND BIOGRAPHY PERSONAL INFORMATION Born: Nov. 19, 1958 Hometown: Malvern, Pa. Education: East Stroudsburg (1983, bach- elor's in health and physical education) Playing career: Springfield College, 1978-79 (offensive line); East Stroudsburg, 1980-81 (of- fensive line) COACHING CAREER 1982: East Stroudsburg, student assistant 1983: East Stroudsburg, assistant offensive line 1984-85: East Stroudsburg, offensive line 1986: Pennsylvania, tight ends 1987: USC, graduate assistant 1988: Toledo, tight ends 1989-93: Cincinnati, offensive line 1994-96: Missouri, offensive line 1997-04: Illinois, offensive line 2005-09: Chicago Bears, offensive line 2010-11: Tennessee, offensive line 2012-17: Notre Dame, offensive line 2018-19: Chicago Bears, offensive line 2022: Notre Dame, offensive line

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