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Notre Dame announces the official hire of Deland McCullough as running backs coach

Well that was a saga

NFL: AUG 25 Preseason - Chiefs at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Friday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish officially announced the hiring of Deland McCullough as the new running backs coach.

Notre Dame press release:

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame continues to add proven successful coaches to its football staff as Dick Corbett Head Coach Marcus Freeman announced Deland McCullough has joined the program as the running backs coach. McCullough, who won a Super Bowl title with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020, joins the Irish after spending the 2021 season at Indiana as its associate head coach and running backs coach, his second stint at IU.

“Deland is as dynamic as you will find in our game when it comes to helping players reach, and at times even exceed, their potential,” said Freeman. “I have admired his work from a distance for several years, and I am so excited for our running backs to be able to bring in a coach who is going to get the most out of them on the field and also help them achieve their goals off of the field.”

In his lone season back at Indiana, McCullough coached running back Stephen Carr to a career year, as he gained 600 yards and scored six touchdowns in nine games for the Hoosiers.

Prior to his second stint with the Hoosiers, McCullough spent three seasons with the Chiefs where they won Super Bowl LIV, played in back-to-back Super Bowls and advanced to three-straight AFC Championship Games, the only AFC team to ever host three in a row.

McCullough was recognized as the NFL’s running backs coach of the year at the 2020 Combine. During his time with the Chiefs, his rushers consistently ranked among the league’s leaders in yards after catch, yards after contact and fewest sacks allowed. McCullough’s group surrendered just four sacks in his three campaigns, including zero in 2020. He guided Anthony Sherman to the 2018 Pro Bowl, and rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2020. McCullough also coached standouts Kareem Hunt, Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell.

Before the jump to the NFL, McCullough spent the 2017 season as the run game coordinator and running backs coach for USC. In his one season with the Trojans, they won the Pac-12 championship and clinched a Cotton Bowl berth. Under his tutelage, Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr each carded All-Pac-12 accolades, while Jones garnered All-America honors. Jones was later selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay.

During his first run in Bloomington, the Hoosiers set 19 different program rushing records and McCullough was named the 2014 running backs coach of the year. With McCullough coaching them, Tevin Coleman (2015) and Jordan Howard (2016) became the first Indiana running backs to be drafted in consecutive years since 1990-92.

McCullough oversaw Devine Redding as he became the fourth IU back to record two-straight 1,000-yard campaigns (20015-16) and the first since Vaughn Dunbar (1990-91).

During the 2015 season, McCullough guided Howard (1,213), a first-team All-Big Ten honoree, and Redding (1,012) to 1,000 yards seasons, the first time two runners have done so in the same season in IU history. Coupled with Coleman (2014), it marked the third time in school history two different IU running backs earned first-team All-B1G honors in back-to-back years.

In 2014, McCullough’s running back group set a school single-season record with 3,163 rushing yards and averaged 263.6 rushing yards per game (9th nationally, 3rd in the Big Ten). Coleman became the 18th player in FBS history to rush for 2,000 yards (2,036), which set a school record, was 16th on the FBS all-time list and sixth in Big Ten history. The Tinley Park, Illinois, native was Indiana’s third unanimous and consensus All-American in 2014, finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting and was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award.

Coleman finished second nationally in rushing yards (2,036), rushing yards per game (169.7), all-purpose yards per game (181.4) and yards from scrimmage per game (181.4), third in yards from scrimmage (2,177), fifth in all-purpose yards (2,177) and rushing yards per carry (7.54), tied for 19th in rushing touchdowns (15) and tied for 25th in total TDs (15).

On the Hoosiers’ career lists, Coleman is first with 7.1 yards per attempt, fifth with 3,219 rushing yards, 4,292 all-purpose yards, and 28 rushing scores and tied for seventh with 29 total touchdowns.

McCullough also mentored Stephen Houston (2011-13), who ranks sixth in IU program history with 25 rushing TDs, tied for seventh with 29 total scores, tied for 10th with nine 100-yard games and 11th with 2,304 rushing yards on IU’s all-time lists. IU rushed for 1,374 yards in league play and the running backs lost just one fumble in 272 attempts in his first year.

Before his time at Indiana McCullough spent two seasons at his alma mater, Miami (Ohio), as an offensive and special teams intern and running backs coach. In 2010, the RedHawks captured the MAC championship and won the Bowl.

During his playing years at Miami, McCullough was a three-time All-MAC selection (1st team in 1992 and 1995, 2nd team in 1994). He was the first Miami player to be named MAC Freshman of the Year (1992) and was named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. McCullough ended his RedHawk career as the MAC and Miami record holder for career rushing yards (4,368) and career rushing attempts (949). He was the first RedHawk to lead the team in rushing for four-straight years, topping the 1,000-yard mark on three occasions. He was inducted into the Miami Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.

McCullough played professionally from 1996-2001 for the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles, the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and the XFL’s Chicago Enforcers. Following his playing career, McCullough worked in education at the high school level as a teacher, head football coach, athletic director, and certified principal.

Deland and his wife, Darnell, have four sons, Deland II, Dasan, Daeh, and Diem.