On Tuesday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish officially announced the hiring of Al Washington as the new defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame continues to build out its coaching staff as Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Marcus Freeman announced the hiring of 15-year coaching veteran Al Washington as the Bob and Leslie Mohr Family Defensive Line Coach and Defensive Run Game Coordinator.
“I have seen firsthand how talented Al Washington is as a coach,” said Freeman. “He is a great teacher and developer of his players on the field, but is just as impressive in how he goes about building great men off the field. On top of that, he is a passionate recruiter whose work in that area is going to help us compete for a national title.”
Washington comes to the Irish after spending the last three seasons at Ohio State. In his final season at Ohio State, Washington and the Buckeyes’ defense ranked in the Top-20 nationally in defensive touchdowns and turnover margin. Ohio State led the nation in defensive touchdowns with 6 and ranked 15th nationally in turnover margin with +9. Sophomore linebacker Steele Chambers was named an honorable mention All-Big Ten honoree by the media after totaling 47 tackles, 5.0 tackles-for-loss and 1.0 sack in 2021.
In 2020, he developed all four senior linebackers for the next level. Each of the four senior linebackers on the 2020 Ohio State team were in the NFL as of August 2021: Tuf Borland (Minnesota), Baron Browning (Denver), Justin Hilliard (San Francisco) and Pete Werner (New Orleans).
Werner was a Butkus Award Semifinalist in 2020 after he led the team in tackles with 54 and forced fumbles with two. Werner was a First Team All-Big 10 selection by the coaches following the season.
Washington helped Ohio State’s defense lead the nation in four statistical categories in 2019, including total defense and passing yards allowed, while compiling a 13-1 record and a third consecutive outright Big Ten Conference championship. He also developed four linebackers into all-conference performers with Malik Harrison a first-team honoree and Tuf Borland, Baron Browning and Pete Werner all earning honorable mention honors.
Washington coached linebackers at Michigan during the 2018 season, helping the Wolverines produce the nation’s No. 3-ranked overall defense and the second-ranked unit against the pass. Washington also mentored consensus All-American and Butkus Award finalist Devin Bush, who was the Big Ten’s Woodson-Nagurski Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year. All three of his linebackers earned all-Big Ten honors this past season as Khaleke Hudson and Josh Uche each were named honorable mention all-league by the league’s coaches and voting media.
Washington assisted with special teams, and the Wolverines were tied for fourth nationally in blocked punts, led the Big Ten in punt average and allowed just one kick return all season of 30 yards or more.
Washington returned to the state of Ohio in 2017 when he served as defensive line coach for Luke Fickell at Cincinnati in Fickell’s first season with the Bearcats.
Prior to Cincinnati, Washington spent five years at his alma mater, Boston College. Washington coached running backs from 2013 through 2015 before taking over as the program’s special team’s coordinator and defensive line coach during the 2016 season. He began his tenure in 2012 as the assistant special teams coach and assistant defensive line coach.
In his final year at Boston College, Washington moved to the defensive side of the ball and coached the defensive line. With his help, the Eagles were one of the nation’s best units, ranking in the top 10 in total defense, sacks, tackles for loss and rush defense. He coached defensive end Harold Landry, an All-American, who led the nation with 16.5 sacks. Landry was a second round draft choice of the Tennessee Titans.
Over the three seasons that he coached running backs, Boston College ranked first in the ACC with 211.8 yards per game. The Eagles improved their rushing output in each season and broke the school’s season rushing record in 2014.
In 2013, Washington helped develop Andre Williams into a Heisman Trophy finalist and the ACC’s first-ever Doak Walker Award recipient. That season, Williams rushed for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns, becoming just the 16th player in FBS history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark.
Washington coached linebackers at Elon in 2011. A two-year stint at Slippery Rock proceeded Washington’s tenure at Elon. He began his coaching career in 2007 as the defensive line coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution (RPI) before a one year stay in 2008 at N.C. State as a graduate assistant.
An outstanding player in his own right, Washington was a three-year starter and four-year letterwinner as a defensive tackle for Boston College (2002-05). He finished his career with 74 tackles, six sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. The Eagles won eight or more games in all four of his years and were unbeaten in four bowl games. He graduated in 2006 with a degree in sociology. At Bishop Watterson, Washington was the 2001 co-Defensive Player of the Year in Division II and led the Eagles to the state championship game.
Washington and his wife, Melissa, have a son, Michael, and a daughter, Audrey.