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 23 BY ASHTON POLLARD N otre Dame has found a replace- ment for departed tight ends coach John McNulty. Former West Virginia co-offensive co- ordinator Gerad Parker is set to take con- trol of one of the best position groups in the country for the 2022 season. The 41-year-old was the co-offen- sive coordinator and receivers coach for the Mountaineers for the previous two years. He was set to share the offensive coordinator duties beginning this year, but he served as the sole offensive co- ordinator and receivers coach for West Virginia from 2020-21. Parker has had career stops at Penn State, Duke, Cincinnati and Purdue, and he briefly served as the interim head coach for the Boilermakers in 2016. He has coached several offensive positions, including tight ends, receivers and run- ning backs. Additionally, he was the re- cruiting coordinator at Purdue for four years from 2013-16. The offensive-minded coach knows Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman from his brief stint as the running backs coach at Cincinnati in 2017 while Freeman was the Bearcats' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. The two young coaches overlapped at Purdue as well. West Virginia ran a relatively bal- anced offense last year under Parker, headlined by quarterback Jarret Doege and running back Leddie Brown. Doege made 417 of West Virginia's 447 pass attempts last year, and the of- fense averaged 247.9 passing yards per contest, which was fourth in the Big 12. Wide receiver Winston Wright was named second-team All-Big 12 after leading the team with 47 receptions for 553 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brown posted a 1,000-yard season, although the Mountaineers as a whole were last in the conference in rushing yards per game. The running back had 223 carries for 1,065 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 13 scores. Parker's receivers during his one-year stint at Penn State in 2019 were fantas- tic; the team averaged 35.8 points per game (15th nationally) and 13.3 yards per completion (33rd nationally). The group was headlined by wideout KJ Hamler's 56 catches for 904 yards and eight scores, a performance that earned him Sports Illustrated All-Big Ten first- team honors as an all-purpose player. Hamler was ultimately a second-round NFL Draft selection in 2020. To say Parker is starting in South Bend with a solid foundation is a gross under- statement. He will have arguably the best tight end in the nation in Michael Mayer at his disposal, along with six additional scholarship tight ends. Mayer led the team in receptions last season and is poised to be a first-round NFL Draft selection in 2023. Notre Dame will add two highly rated true freshmen tight ends this summer in Eli Raridon and Holden Staes, players about whom Freeman is immensely excited. Parker is originally from Kentucky and played college football for the Wildcats, but his career was plagued by obstacles in the form of a broken collarbone and a leg injury. To add insult to injury, Ken- tucky also had three head coaches during his five years in Lexington. Parker ultimately finished his time at Kentucky with 15 receptions for 168 yards. He was a Southeastern Confer- ence Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll selec- tion (2002-03) and also earned CoSIDA Academic All-District IV second-team honors in 2004. At Lawrence County High School in Louisa, Ky., Parker finished as the state's all-time leader with 4,814 career receiving yards. In his senior year, he had 65 catches for 1,504 yards and 20 touchdowns. Parker and his wife, Kandi, have three daughters: Kolbi, Gwyneth and Rosalyn, and a son, Oliver. The former coordinator will replace John McNulty, who was formally named the new offensive coordinator at Boston College on Feb. 1. ✦ In Good Hands New tight ends coach Gerad Parker spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator at West Virginia Parker comes to Notre Dame with more than a decade of coaching experience, including two years as an offensive coordinator and four years as a recruiting coordinator. PHOTO COURTESY PENN STATE ATHLETICS GERAD PARKER BIOGRAPHY PERSONAL INFORMATION Born: Jan. 4, 1981 Hometown: Louisa, Ky. Education: Kentucky (2003, bachelor 's in business management), Kentucky (2005, mas- ter's in education) Playing career: Kentucky, 2000-04, (wide re- ceiver) COACHING CAREER 2005-06: Raceland H.S. (Ky.), wide receivers/ defensive backs coach 2007: Kentucky, graduate assistant 2008: UT Martin, running backs coach 2009-10: UT Martin, wide receivers coach, passing game/recruiting coordinator 2011-12: Marshall, wide receivers coach 2013-14: Purdue, tight ends coach, recruiting coordinator 2015-16: Purdue, wide receivers, recruiting coordinator 2016: Purdue, interim head coach 2017: Cincinnati, running backs coach 2017: Duke, offensive football operations as- sistant 2018: Duke, wide receivers coach 2019: Penn State, wide receivers coach, pass- ing game coordinator 2020-21: West Virginia, offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach 2022: Notre Dame, tight ends coach

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