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Cincinnati’s Marcus Freeman hired as new defensive coordinator

| Saturday, January 9, 2021

It was announced Friday that Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman will be the new defensive coordinator for Notre Dame. Freeman will replace Clark Lea, who recently accepted the head coaching position at Vanderbilt after manning the Irish defense for three seasons at Notre Dame.

During his four years at Cincinnati, Freeman transformed Cincinnati’s defense into one of the best in the country. This past season, Freeman’s work paid off with Cincinnati completing an undefeated regular season and earning a trip to the Peach Bowl, where they ultimately lost 24-21 to Georgia.

The Bearcats ranked 13th nationally in total defense (324.6 yards/game), eighth in scoring defense (16.8 points per game), 10th in forced turnovers (21) and 16th in sacks per game (3.0) with Freeman at the helm in 2020.

Before becoming the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, Freeman coached at Purdue where he served as a linebackers coach from 2013-2015 and co-defensive coordinator in 2016. Prior to Purdue, Freeman was a linebacker and assistant coach for Kent State.

Freeman was also a player before his coaching days, playing linebacker for Ohio State from 2004-2008. At Ohio State, Freeman started in 37 games and finished 19th on the all-time tackles list at Ohio State. He was selected second team All-Big Ten in 2007 and 2008 for his efforts.

After college, Freeman was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He also spent time with the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans. His NFL career came to an abrupt end in 2010, however, when it was discovered that Freeman had an enlarged heart condition.

This was not the first time the Irish have gotten a coach from Cincinnati, with current head coach Brian Kelly also coaching there from 2007-2009 and current Irish cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens filling the same role as he did with the Bearcats in 2018 and 2019.

Kelly, Mickens and now Freeman will get a crack at their old watering hole with a matchup against Cincinnati scheduled for October 2 at Notre Dame Stadium next season.

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