Mike Elston Named Notre Dame Associate Head Football Coach

Jan. 9, 2018

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame assistant head coach/defensive line coach Mike Elston, a member of the Fighting Irish football coaching staff since 2010, has been promoted to associate head coach/defensive line.

“I love the University of Notre Dame," said Elston. "My family and I are blessed to be a part of this University. I want to thank Jack Swarbrick and Brian Kelly for this opportunity that continues my growth as a coach and offers a greater leadership role in the program. I’m very excited to stay with the defensive line and help them develop to their fullest potential-- both on and off the field.”

“Mike has been instrumental to the success of Notre Dame football,” said Brian Kelly, the Dick Corbett Head Football Coach at the University of Notre Dame. “His commitment and passion for this program and University are second to none. In many ways, Mike can best be described as the backbone of our coaching staff. He’s tutored All-Americans at every position group in his tenure at Notre Dame, including linebacker, defensive line and placekicker. Mike’s also been a vital resource in recruiting — leading the efforts of that office for two years. He’s, without a doubt, a future head coach and we’re very, very fortunate to have him on our staff.”

Elston, who was promoted to Notre Dame’s assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2017 season, keyed a resurgent Irish defensive line over the past year. Last season, he inherited seven defensive linemen who had seen previous game action over their respective careers. That group had combined for a total of just four career sacks, but recorded 16.5 sacks under Elston in 2017.

The front four of Jerry Tillery, Daelin Hayes, Jonathan Bonner and Jay Hayes started 12 of Notre Dame’s 13 games. All four recorded career highs in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks.



Elston also played an integral role in the development of first-year players Julian Okwara, Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Kurt Hinish.

In addition to his duties related to coaching the defensive line, Elston will represent the program when directed to so by Kelly or when Kelly is unavailable. This will include but not be limited to assisting in managing the football program, participating in press conferences, making public appearances (including alumni and donor functions) and attending departmental and University meetings.

Elston served as Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator and linebacker coach during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He spearheaded an Irish recruiting effort that brought in consensus top-15 classes in each of his two seasons in that role. Elston also coached former All-America linebacker Jaylon Smith, who eclipsed 100 tackles in consecutive seasons. In 2015, no Power 5 linebacker other than Smith made the following claim: 114 or more tackles, 9.0 TFLs and five passes broken up.

Elston is no stranger to the defensive line, having coached that unit at Notre Dame from 2010-14. He played a critical role in the development of Sheldon Day, a fourth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2016 NFL Draft, while also mentoring Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III, 2014 NFL Draft selections in the second and third rounds, respectively. Tuitt and Nix were the first Irish defensive line tandem to be chosen in the first three rounds of the same draft since 1997. The duo was also the first pair to earn All-America status on the defensive line at Notre Dame in the same season since 1989. Tuitt finished his career with 21.5 sacks, third most in school history.

Also under his tutelage was Kapron Lewis-Moore, a sixth-round NFL Draft pick in 2013 who saw his draft stock decline only after suffering a torn ACL in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. Lewis-Moore was part of a 2012 unit that allowed just four rushing touchdowns, including zero over the first seven games of the year, the fewest in FBS, while propelling the Irish to a 12-1 record. Notre Dame held eight opponents that year under 100 rushing yards, tied for most among automatic BCS-bid teams. Elston helped steer Notre Dame through a 2013 campaign which saw the defensive line plagued by injuries, with the trio of Day, Nix III and Tuitt on the field for just 23 plays together over the final 10 games of the season.

Elston oversaw Notre Dame’s special teams during his first two seasons, 2010 and 2011. He mentored kicker David Ruffer to finalist status for the Lou Groza Award in 2010, as Ruffer converted his first 18 field-goal attempts to run a school-record for career consecutive made field goals to 23. In 2011, kick returner George Atkinson III ranked 19th nationally in kickoff return average (26.1), helping the Irish improve to 36th in FBS as a team that season (up from 75th in 2010).

Long a part of Kelly’s staff, Elston held jobs of assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator, special teams coordinator, tight ends coach and defensive line coach during three years at Cincinnati (2007-09). In 2009, as the Bearcats went undefeated in the regular season and won the BIG EAST title, Elson implemented a new scheme on the defensive line and held opponents to 3.6 yards per carry. The Bearcats ranked in the FBS top 10 in both tackles for loss and sacks, led by second-team all-BIG EAST pick Ricardo Mathews and Alex Daniels.

On special teams at Cincinnati, Elston mentored the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year all three seasons, as Marty Gilyard earned the nod in both 2008 and 2009, while punter Kevin Huber took home that hardware in 2007, along with All-America honors in 2007 and 2008. Gilyard averaged 30.5 yards per kick return in 2009, helping the Bearcats rank second nationally at 28.5 yards per kickoff return. Huber led the nation with 46.9 yards per punt in 2007, as Cincinnati was only the fourth team in FBS history to lead the nation in net punting in consecutive seasons. Huber was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of 2009 NFL Draft and has been the Bengals punter ever since, making the Pro Bowl in 2014.

Elston was also with Kelly for three seasons at Central Michigan (2004-06), where he mentored two all-Mid-American Conference linebackers in 2006, including the league’s top tackler. He served as the Chippewas’ co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in 2005, mentoring Dan Bazuin who led the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss and tied a MAC record with 16 sacks.

His first full-time coaching job was on the staff at Eastern Michigan, where he coached the defensive line from 2001-03 while serving as recruiting coordinator for his final two seasons. Elston was a graduate assistant at Michigan in 1999 and 2000.

Elston is a 1998 graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in sport management and communications. He was a four-year member of the Wolverines football team (1993-96) and three-year letterwinner as an outside linebacker (1994-96).

Following his graduation from Michigan, Elston became a video intern with the Wolverines in 1998 before serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater for two seasons (1999-00).

Elston and his wife Beth, have three daughters: Olivia, Sophia and Isabella.

The Elston File

Hometown St. Marys, Ohio
College Michigan (Sport Management and Communications, 1998)
Wife Beth (Broyles)
Children Daughters - Olivia, Sophia and Isabella

Playing Experience

1993-96 Michigan Outside Linebacker

Bowls/Playoffs Played

1993 Michigan Hall of Fame
1994 Michigan Holiday
1995 Michigan Alamo
1996 Michigan Outback

Coaching Career

1997 Michigan Student Assistant
1998 Michigan Video Intern
1999 Michigan Graduate Assistant/Outside Linebackers
2000 Michigan Graduate Assistant/Outside Linebackers
2001 Eastern Michigan Defensive Ends
2002 Eastern Michigan Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line
2003 Eastern Michigan Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line
2004 Central Michigan Defensive Line
2005 Central Michigan Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line
2006 Central Michigan Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator
2007 Cincinnati Recruiting Coord./Tight Ends/Special Teams Coord.
2008 Cincinnati Recruiting Coord./Tight Ends/Special Teams Coord.
2009 Cincinnati Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Line/Special Teams Coord.
2010 Notre Dame Defensive Line/Special Teams Coordinator
2011 Notre Dame Defensive Line/Special Teams Coordinator
2012 Notre Dame Defensive Line
2013 Notre Dame Defensive Line
2014 Notre Dame Defensive Line
2015 Notre Dame Recruiting Coordinator/Linebackers
2016 Notre Dame Recruiting Coordinator/Linebackers
2017 Notre Dame Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line
2018 Notre Dame Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line

Bowls/Playoffs Coached

1998 Michigan Rose
1999 Michigan Citrus
2000 Michigan Orange
2001 Michigan Citrus
2006 Central Michigan Motor City
2007 Cincinnati
2009 Cincinnati Orange
2010 Cincinnati Sugar
2010 Notre Dame Sun
2011 Notre Dame Champs Sports
2012 Notre Dame BCS National Championship
2013 Notre Dame Pinstripe
2014 Notre Dame Music City
2015 Notre Dame Fiesta
2017 Notre Dame Citrus

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