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This Guy Coaches Notre Dame Football: Mike Elston, Defensive Line Coach/Associate Head Coach

This dude has been with Brian Kelly for a LONG time, and his recent success in developing a strong defensive line has been a big reason Clark Lea’s defense continues to succeed

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 13 Notre Dame Spring Game Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players and coaches, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2020 season.

Mike Elston, DL Coach/Associate Head Coach

Mike Elston started his collegiate football career in an unfortunate location, playing for the Michigan Wolverines from 1993 to 1996 as an outside linebacker hailing from St. Marys, Ohio. Following the end of his playing career, Elston stuck with his alma mater, working for UM first as a student assistant, then a video intern, and then finally as a graduate assistant for two seasons.

From that GA position he got his break as a position coach, manning the defensive ends for Eastern Michigan before taking over the entire defensive line and recruiting for the Eagles. He leveraged that into being named the defensive line coach for Central Michigan’s new coach in 2004 — some guy named Brian Kelly.

Elston moved up within Kelly’s staff to be co-defensive coordinator and then linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, before Kelly took Elston with him to Cincinnati. At Cincy, Elston first served as tight ends coach, special teams coordinator, and head of recruiting before being promoted to Associate Head Coach while also serving as DL Coach and Special Teams Coordinator.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Then, when BK got the call up to the majors and was awarded the Notre Dame job, Elston continued to follow him, with stints as Offensive Line Coach, Run Game Coordinator, QB Coach, and Offensive Coordinator.

After a quick detour to serve as Associate Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and QB Coach at Kansas in Mark Mangino’s final season in Lawrence, Elston came back to ND for good, mostly focused on DL and LBs and coordinating recruiting before settling in as Bob and Leslie Mohr Family Defensive Line Coach/Associate Head Coach in 2018.

In his time coordinating recruiting, he definitely did himself a favor as DL Coach in helping bring in recent studs like Jerry Tillery, Julian Okwara, Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem, and Adetokunbo Ogundeji.

Oh, and one other note — his wife Beth has helped him find a unique and delicious way to motivate his guys for big plays.

Spirit Animal

Cookie Monster

I couldn’t resist — Elston’s been hungry to put together consistently strong defensive lines, and now that he’s got a nice depth chart full of very good players up and down the line, he’s feasting on the sweet, sweet tears of QBs and RBs as his defensive line gets after it.

Today - Season 68 Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

2020 Outlook

Defensive line never seemed to be a strong suit for Notre Dame, but the last few years have seen Elston really build up a great deal of depth and talent along the defensive front.

Elston will have to replace Okwara and Kareem and Jamir Jones, but with Hayes and Ogundeji back along with some very solid defensive tackles (Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Jayson Ademilola, Kurt Hinish, Jacob Lacey), Elston’s d-line looks ready to have another strong year helping to anchor yet another stalwart Clark Lea defense. Look for Elston’s guys to continue to wreak havoc in the backfield and continue to be a strength for Lea’s unit.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports