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Notre Dame announces Lance Taylor as running backs coach

| Wednesday, February 13, 2019

On Tuesday, Notre Dame named Lance Taylor as its new running backs coach, filling the void left by Autry Denson, who recently departed the program to take over the head coach position at Charleston Southern. Taylor, a graduate of the Alabama football program, served as running backs coach for Stanford from 2014 to 2016 before traveling to the East Coast to join the Carolina Panthers’ staff as the wide receivers coach.

“I’ve been blessed to work at some incredible places in my career, but Notre Dame is truly special,” Taylor said in a press release. “I’m honored and humbled to represent this incredible University as its running backs coach. I’d like to thank both Brian Kelly and Jack Swarbrick for this opportunity. I’m excited to get on campus, meet our players and get to work.”

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish sophomore running back Jafar Armstrong takes a handoff during Notre Dame’s 30-3 to Clemson on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium. Armstrong had 383 rushing and 159 receiving yards last year.

Initially a walk-on, Taylor earned a scholarship under then-Alabama head coach Mike Shula. After a brief stint playing professionally in the Arena Football League, he returned to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as a graduate assistant to newly-hired Nick Saban.

His three seasons with the Cardinal propelled him to success, leading him to be named Running Backs Coach of the Year by FootballScoop.com in 2015. That award-winning season was highlighted by his work with Heisman runner-up Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey, who currently plays for the Panthers, led the Cardinal in both rushing and receiving yards with 2,019 and 645 yards, respectively, demonstrating the dual coaching abilities Taylor possesses for both running backs and receivers. McCaffrey was also named Associated Press Player of the Year in recognition for his sophomore season.

Taylor also played a pivotal role in the recruitment of another Cardinal Heisman runner-up: Bryce Love. After playing backup to McCaffrey for two years — during which he tallied over 1,000 yards on the ground — Love assumed the starting role in 2017, rushing for 2,118 yards. He also ran for a school-record 301 yards in a single game during his junior year.

Taylor now steps into a role that’s experienced considerable success of late, as Denson developed multiple productive running backs over the past few seasons, notably Josh Adams and Dexter Williams. Though Adams and Williams both posted respectable numbers in the early portions of their career, they each enjoyed breakout seasons in their final year with Notre Dame, rushing for 1,430 and 941 yards, respectively.

Taylor will inherit a running backs corps that includes junior Tony Jones Jr., sophomores Jafar Armstrong and Avery Davis, freshman C’Bo Flemister and Jahmir Smith, and incoming freshman and early enrollee Kyren Williams.

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