Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2023

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

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Page 39 of 55

FOOTBALL RECRUITING 40 APRIL 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MIKE SINGER T ommy Rees left for Alabama, and Harry Hiestand is back in retirement. To replace them, the Fighting Irish added offensive coordinator to tight ends coach Gerad Parker's responsibili- ties. Former Virginia Tech and Wiscon- sin assistant coach Joe Rudolph replaces Hiestand as the Irish's new offensive line coach, while former Cincinnati of- fensive coordinator Gino Guidugli, who had just joined the Wisconsin staff in January as tight ends coach, is now the new quarterbacks coach in South Bend. GERAD PARKER, THE 'WAR DADDY' In a article Feb. 4, 2022 — soon after the Fighting Irish hired Parker to become their new tight ends coach — we spoke to a source who knows Parker well who called him a "War Daddy" on the recruiting trail. That's not a bad endorsement. "He's a strong recruiter who develops connections with kids," another source said of Parker's time as West Virginia's offensive coordinator and wide receiv- ers coach. "He has strong East Coast ties, and in Indiana and Kentucky. "He was known more for his efforts as a recruiter than an on-field coach, but his receivers did improve from his first year to second." In his first year at Notre Dame, Parker did well on the recruiting trail. He in- herited a commitment from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle's Cooper Flanagan, a four-star recruit and the nation's No. 21 tight end nationally per On3, and they quickly built a strong relationship. Pro- grams such as Alabama, LSU and Miami tried to flip Flanagan after he gave his Irish pledge, but Parker and Co. were able to hold on to him. "I'm super excited," Flanagan told Blue & Gold Illustrated regarding Park- er's new position. "I love Coach Parker. He is a super smart and loving guy, and I can already tell he brings out the best in his players. I trust him, and really be- lieve in him and his ability to lead this offense. I can't wait." It's never bad to beat out Alabama for a couple recruits. The Crimson Tide were also in pursuit of Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic's Jack Larsen, the No. 27 tight end in America in the 2024 class ac- cording to On3. Parker led the way for the Irish to land Larsen, who also held offers from Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and others, last summer. "I'm pumped!" Larsen said in a text to BGI about the news. "I'm definitely excited for Coach Parker and looking forward to watch it work next year." A week before Parker was considered a serious contender for the Notre Dame offensive coordinator position, he was helping the Irish keep recruiting going on the 2025 quarterback front, staying in contact with rising junior targets. He's also recently gotten to know Saline (Mich.) High's CJ Carr, a Notre Dame class of 2024 commit and the No. 12 quarterback and No. 200 overall prospect nationally per On3. We expect Parker to be active with all positions of- fensively moving forward. In terms of Parker out recruiting on the road, he's a grinder. He has led Notre Dame's area recruiting efforts in Ken- tucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. They aren't the most glamorous states, but he's done well identifying prospects in the South. GETTING TO KNOW GINO GUIDUGLI Notre Dame sources rave about the pairing of Parker and Guidugli, who are not "co-coordinators," but are expected to be working hand in hand to lead the direction of the Irish offense. Guidugli, who worked at Cincinnati from 2017-22, was the Bearcats' offen- sive coordinator for the first time last year. He followed Luke Fickell to Wis- consin in January, but was hired as the Badgers' tight ends coach rather than offensive coordinator (UW hired for- mer North Carolina coordinator Phil Longo for that duty). Guidugli jumped at the opportunity to join the Irish staff as quarterbacks coach. He's coming in with a bit of a re- lationship with Carr already. He of- fered the elite passer while at Cincin- Gerad Parker, who coached tight ends for the Irish last season, has added offensive coordina- tor to his duties. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER Gino Guidugli, the former Cincinnati offensive coordinator who had just joined the Wisconsin staff in January as tight ends coach, is now Notre Dame's new quarterbacks coach. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN ATHLETICS Assessing The Recruiting Impact Of Notre Dame's New Staff Hires

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