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Irish to hire John McNulty as tight ends coach

| Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Notre Dame football team is expected to hire John McNulty as the new tight ends coach.

McNulty would fill the position coach vacancy left by former offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Chip Long, who reportedly left the program in a mutual parting of ways in December. Long’s coordinator position was filled by former Irish quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees after what head coach Brian Kelly described as an “extensive national search.”

McNulty, 51, played collegiate football at Penn State as a safety from 1988-90. He served as a graduate assistant at Michigan from 1991-94 before coaching wide receivers at UConn.

From there, the Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania native moved on to the NFL, working as a receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. After a five-year stint in the pros he made his return to college as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks and receivers coach at Rutgers, his first of two stints in New Brunswick, New Jersey under head coach Greg Schiano.

During his first go-round with the Scarlet Knights, Rutgers set school records in 2007 for points scored, total offense and first downs. After five seasons there, McNulty jumped back to the pros as a quarterbacks and receivers coach for the Cardinals for three seasons, followed by one season at Tampa Bay and two in Tennessee solely coaching QBs. After that, an Irish connection arises.

Rees, after graduating from Notre Dame following the 2013 season, spent one year as a member of the Washington Redskins practice squad before becoming a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2015. He then became an analyst for the San Diego Chargers in 2016, the same year McNulty got his first tight ends coaching job, also with the Chargers.

Rees returned to Notre Dame in 2017 while McNulty stayed one more year in San Diego, then returned to Rutgers very briefly before joining James Franklin’s Penn State coaching staff as an analyst.

Now, McNulty is expected to get only his second job coaching tight ends in his nearly 30-year coaching career. However, he is not without talent at the position. McNulty inherits a position group that, while losing Cole Kmet to the NFL draft, returns senior-to-be Brock Wright as well as juniors-to-be George Takacs and Tommy Tremble.

In addition, thanks to Long’s recruiting efforts, McNulty has somewhat of a buffer in that regard. He has five-star tight end and Kentucky’s No. 1-ranked player Michael Mayer, as well as four-star New Jersey product Kevin Bauman, entering the fold. Also, the No. 1-ranked tight end in the class of 2021, Cane Berrong, is committed to the Irish.

McNulty will look to maintain a high-standard that has been set as Notre Dame has come to be known as “Tight End U,” with the last eight Irish season-starting tight ends being drafted to the NFL.

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