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Harry Hiestand leaves Notre Dame, returns to Chicago Bears as offensive line coach

| Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand will leave Notre Dame and return to the Chicago Bears in the NFL, the program announced Wednesday.

Hiestand previously coached for the Bears from 2005–2009. Prior to that job, he had been the offensive line coach at Cincinnati, Missouri and Illinois. He returned to the college ranks with Tennessee in 2010 before joining Notre Dame’s staff in 2012 and coaching the Irish offensive line unit for the past five seasons.

“Harry is an outstanding coach — one of the best offensive line coaches in football,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “He developed young men in the spirit of Notre Dame. I know this was a difficult decision for him based upon his feelings for this program, this University and his student-athletes.”

“While disappointed to see Harry go, I’m not surprised by his decision. We knew six years ago when we hired him that his final step in coaching could be in the NFL.”

This past season, the Irish offensive line won the Joe Moore award, which is given annually to the nation’s best offensive line unit. Notre Dame finished seventh in the nation in rushing yards per game with 269.3 yards on the ground per game. The offense also averaged a modern-era school record 6.25 yards per carry, good for the third best mark in the nation. The previous school record was also set during Hiestand’s tenure in 2015, when the offense averaged 5.63 yards per carry.

During his tenure, four Notre Dame offensive linemen — Zack Martin, Chris Watt, Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin — were all drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since 2013, with two more — Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey — expected to join that group. Prior to Hiestand’s arrival, the Irish had only had two offensive lineman drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since 2002.

“Coach Hiestand built upon the standard of Notre Dame offensive line play,” senior offensive lineman Sam Mustipher said in a statement. “He helped bring it back to where it made those before us proud to tune in every weekend. The lessons he taught me as a football player, and as a man, will carry me through the rest of my life.”

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