On Monday, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish officially announced the hiring of Grad Parker as the new tight ends coach.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Marcus Freeman finalized his first staff on the offensive side of the ball as the Irish announced the hiring of 16-year coaching veteran Gerad Parker as the tight ends coach.
“I have been fortunate enough to coach with Gerad previously in our careers,” said Freeman. “The energy he brings each and every day is contagious. It is part of what makes him a great leader. He is also a very detailed teacher and that combination of skills is going to make us a better program.”
Parker comes to South Bend after spending the previous two seasons at West Virginia as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
During the 2021 season, Parker guided WVU wide receivers Winston Wright Jr., and Bryce Ford-Weaton to career-best seasons. Wright led the Mountaineers with 62 receptions, 688 receiving yards and five touchdowns, all career-best numbers. Ford-Weaton set career highs with 42 receptions, 575 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The pair earned All Big-12 honorable mention from the league’s coaches.
The Mountaineer rushing attack had a strong season with Leddie Brown rushing for over 1,000 yards for the second-straight season. He set a career high with 1,065 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns, which ranked 24th nationally and third in the Big-12. One of Brown’s lead blocker was center Zach Frazier, who garnered two second team All-American honors from Walter Camp and the AFCA.
In 2020, West Virginia had one of the most improved offenses in the nation in terms of total yards, showing gains of more than 60 yards rushing per game, almost 30 yards passing a game, more than 90 yards of total offense and almost seven more points a game.
The offensive line had another productive year in 2020 with Leddie Brown rushing for 1,010 yards and nine touchdowns, Jarret Doege throwing for more than 2,500 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wide receiver Winston Wright Jr. was an All-Big 12 Conference Second Team performer after leading the Mountaineers with 47 catches for 553 yards and two touchdowns and T.J. Simmons finished with 23 catches for 401 yards and a team-high four receiving touchdowns. Simmons was named the WVU Offensive MVP as well as the Bowl MVP for finishing with two touchdowns, including the game-winning score.
Before his time at West Virginia, Parker spent the 2019 season as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at Penn State. The Nittany Lions offense averaged 35.8 points per game, ranking No. 15 nationally, was No. 21 in red zone offense (.904) and averaged 13.3 yards per completion, ranking No. 33 nationally. One of his receivers, KJ Hamler, led the team with 56 catches for 904 yards and eight touchdowns. He was named All-Big Ten First Team as an all-purpose player by Sports Illustrated and was a second-team honoree on several lists.
Before Penn State, Parker spent two years on the football staff at Duke (2017-18). During the 2018 season, he coached T.J. Rahming, who was named an All-ACC Second Team selection. His wide receivers accounted for 2,252 passing yards of the Blue Devils’ 3,199 total offensive yards (70.4%).
He served his first year as the football operations assistant working with the offense in 2017. The Blue Devils offense had three All-ACC selections and for the first time in program history had three players with 500 or more rushing yards, while also having a quarterback throw for more than 2,500 yards. Parker spent the spring as the running backs coach at Cincinnati before joining the Duke football staff.
Before his stint with the Blue Devils, Parker spent four seasons at Purdue, where he coached the tight ends (2013-14) and wide receivers (2015-16). He was the recruiting coordinator and also spent the final six weeks of the 2016 season as the Boilermakers interim head coach. He was on the Boilermaker staff with Freeman.
One of Parker’s receivers, DeAngelo Yancey, finished with 49 receptions for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns, earning All-Big Ten Second Team accolades in 2016. He ended his career ranked No. 7 in receiving yards (2,344) and receiving touchdowns (20) and No. 16 in receptions (141). In 2015, Yancey grabbed 48 receptions and led the team with 700 yards, while Danny Anthrop led the Boilermakers with 57 catches.
Prior to his time at Purdue, Parker spent two years as the wide receivers coach at Marshall (2011-12). The Thundering Herd led the nation in passing offense, averaging 365.1 yards per game. Wide receiver Tommy Shuler led the country and set the school record for receptions (110) and was No. 18 nationally in yards per game (94.8). He earned All-Mid-American Conference First Team honors. In 2011, Aaron Dobson had 49 catches for 668 yards and a team-best 12 touchdowns.
Parker spent three seasons at UT-Martin as the running backs coach (2008), wide receivers coach (2009-10) and was the passing game coordinator and recruiting coordinator (2010). He started his coaching career at Raceland High School in Raceland, Kentucky, and spent the 2007 season as a graduate assistant coach at Kentucky.
Parker earned two degrees from Kentucky, his bachelor’s degree in business management in 2003 and his master’s in education in 2005. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Wildcats where he was a Southeastern Conference Scholar Athlete Honor Roll selection (2002-03) and CoSIDA Academic All-District IV Second Team honoree (2004).
A native of Louisa, Kentucky, Parker played at Lawrence County High School and set state receiving records with 238 catches, 4,814 yards and 52 touchdowns.
He, and his wife, Kandi, have three daughters: Kolbi, Gwyneth and Rosalyn and a son, Oliver.