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    Fighting Irish

     Brian VanGorder  

    Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers

    Alma Mater:
    Wayne State '92


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    85th Annual Blue-Gold Game

    Notre Dame Spring Football Game


    Hometown: Jackson, Mich.

    High School: West Bloomfield High School

    College: Wayne State (Criminal Justice, 1992)

    Children: Sons: Mack and Montgomery; Daughters: Molloy, Morgan and Malone


    1989-90 Grand Valley State Linebackers

    1991 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

    1992-94 Wayne State Head Coach

    1995-96 Central Florida Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator

    1997 Central Florida Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator

    1998-99 Central Michigan Defensive Coordinator

    2000 Western Illinois Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

    2001-04 Georgia Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

    2005 Jacksonville Jaguars Linebackers

    2006 Georgia Southern Head Coach

    2007 Atlanta Falcons Linebackers

    2008-11 Atlanta Falcons Defensive Coordinator

    2012 Auburn Defensive Coordinator

    2013 New York Jets Linebackers

    2014 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers


    1989 Grand Valley State NCAA Division II First Round

    1990 Grand Valley State NCAA Division II First Round

    1991 Grand Valley State NCAA Division II First Round

    2000 Western Illinois NCAA Division I-AA First Round

    2001 Georgia Music City

    2002 Georgia Sugar

    2003 Georgia Capital One

    2004 Georgia Outback

    2005 Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Playoffs

    2008 Atlanta Falcons NFL Playoffs

    2010 Atlanta Falcons NFL Playoffs

    2011 Atlanta Falcons NFL Playoffs


    1977-80 Wayne State Linebacker


    • VanGorder, who originally worked with Kelly as his defensive coordinator on the Grand Valley State staff more than two decades ago, brings to the Irish college head coaching experience at Wayne State (1992-94) and Georgia Southern (2006), seven seasons of NFL work, plus five combined years as a defensive coordinator at both Georgia and Auburn in the SEC.
    • VanGorder served as the New York Jets linebacker coach during the 2013 season. He mentored the tandem of David Harris (123) and DeMario Davis (107), which combined for 230 tackles this past season. Only two teams across the league had a pair of inside linebackers combine for more tackles: San Francisco 49ers (NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, 249) and Philadelphia Eagles (DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks, 233).
    • VanGorder was also instrumental in the re-emergence of outside linebacker Calvin Pace as a dominant pass rusher. The 2003 first-round choice of the Arizona Cardinals totaled 13 sacks over the three seasons before VanGorder arrived in Gotham. Yet, under VanGorder, Pace finished the 2013 season with 10 sacks and reached double digits for the first time in his 11-year NFL career.
    • Prior to his stint as the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2012, VanGorder guided the Atlanta Falcons' defense from 2008-11. The Falcons achieved unprecedented heights, posting four consecutive winning seasons (a franchise first), including playoff appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
    • Helping the Falcons to a 10-6 regular-season record in 2011, VanGorder's defense finished the regular season second in the NFL in red-zone defense, sixth in rushing defense (97.0 yards per game) and 12th in total defense (333.6 yards per game).
    • In 2010, the Falcons finished 10th in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 105.9 yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFC. VanGorder's defense ranked in the top five in the NFL in scoring defense (18.0, fifth), turnover differential (+14, third) and interceptions (22, fourth), marking highs for VanGorder's defense during his tenure.
    • With the leadership of VanGorder, cornerback Brent Grimes earned his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2010 after posting a single-season franchise-high 23 passes defensed, and tying for the team lead in interceptions (five), while adding 82 tackles. His 23 pass breakups ranked second in the NFL in 2010.
    • John Abraham earned his fourth career Pro Bowl selection in 2010 as he led all defensive ends in sacks (13.0), and added 43 tackles, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one interception. He also garnered his third selection to the All-Pro team under the guidance of VanGorder.
    • In 2009, Atlanta's rush defense finished tied for 10th best in the NFL (sixth in the NFC), allowing an average of only 106.8 yards per game. The ranking was 15 spots better than the previous 2008 campaign. Under VanGorder's leadership, the Falcons' 2009 rush defense only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season.
    • In 2008, VanGorder started the retooling process to transform the Falcons' defense into a unit that played with intensity, passion, aggression and toughness. The Falcons, under VanGorder's guidance, finished 11th in the NFL in points allowed at just an average of 20.3 per contest.
    • With VanGorder's direction, linebacker Curtis Lofton played a pivotal role in developing the defense. He earned a starting spot in the middle of the defense as a rookie, garnering NFL All-Rookie accolades from Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly, and finished second in the league among all rookies with 108 stops.
    • Prior to his arrival with the Falcons, VanGorder was the head coach at Georgia Southern in 2006. VanGorder spent the 2005 season coaching the linebackers for the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars under current Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Jacksonville ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense that season with VanGorder's help.
    • During VanGorder's tenure in Athens (2001-04), Georgia won one SEC title, two SEC East Division championships, captured three bowl games and ended up with three straight top-10 finishes in the final national polls. VanGorder's Bulldog defenses included four first-round NFL draft picks (Thomas Davis, Charles Grant, David Pollack and Johnathan Sullivan) while also seeing four players earn All-America recognition (Boss Bailey, Davis, Sean James and Pollack).
    • Georgia posted a 42-10 record over VanGorder's four seasons with the Bulldogs. In his last year at Georgia in 2004, the Bulldogs went 10-2 and finished the season ranked seventh in the nation. Georgia produced a defense that ranked eighth overall and ninth in scoring defense. VanGorder's 2003 defensive unit finished third nationally in scoring defense, fourth in total defense and sixth in passing defense.
    • In 2002, Georgia's defense allowed only 31 points during the final seven games, propelling the Bulldogs to a Sugar Bowl win over Florida State (26-13) and a number three ranking overall in the polls. His strong defense also led the SEC in scoring defense and finished fourth nationally.
    • VanGorder also had college coaching stints as an assistant at Western Illinois (2000), Central Michigan (1998-99), Central Florida (1995-1997), Wayne State (1992-1994) and Grand Valley State (1989-91).


    • A four-year letter-winner as a linebacker at Wayne State, VanGorder played for the Tartars from 1977-80. He collected 335 career tackles, which ranks seventh in school history.
    • VanGorder was inducted into the Wayne State University Hall of Fame in 2013.


    OLB Calvin Pace, New York Jets

    • Finished the 2013 season with 10 sacks and reached double digits for the first time in his 11-year NFL career

    DE John Abraham, Atlanta Falcons

    • Led all defensive ends in sacks in 2010 with 13 en route to a Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro honoree

    LB Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons

    • NFL All-Rookie accolades from Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly in 2008; finished second in the league among all rookies with 108 stops

    CB Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons

    • Earned his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2010 after posting a single-season franchise-high 23 passes defensed. He also tied for the team lead in interceptions (five)
    • Grimes' 23 pass breakups ranked second in the NFL in 2010

    LB Thomas Davis (Georgia), Carolina Panthers

    • 2005 first-round (14th overall) NFL Draft pick by Carolina
    • First-team All-SEC selection and a consensus first-team All-American in 2004

    DE David Pollack (Georgia)

    • 2005 first-round (17th overall) NFL Draft pick by Cincinnati
    • Three-time first-team All-American (2002-04), including two-time NCAA consensus first-team honoree
    • Captured SEC Player of the Year Award (2004), SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award (2004), Chuck Bednarik Award (2004), Ted Hendricks Award (2003, 2004), Lombardi Award (2004) and Lott Trophy (2004)

    DE Charles Grant (Georgia)

    • 2002 first-round (25th overall) NFL Draft pick by New Orleans
    • Three-year letterman and two-year starter who ended career with 15 sacks, which ranks 11th in school history

    LB Boss Bailey (Georgia)

    • 2003 second-round NFL Draft pick by Detroit
    • First-team All-American in 2002 and semifinalist for the Butkus and Lombardi Trophies

    DT Johnathan Sullivan (Georgia)

    • 2003 first-round (sixth overall) NFL Draft pick by New Orleans
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