Football: New tight ends coach Gerad Parker has plenty to work with at Notre Dame

Tom Noie
ND Insider
Gerad Parker spent the back end of the 2016 season as interim coach at Purdue. Parker is reportedly set to become tight ends coach at Notre Dame.

SOUTH BEND — That didn’t take long. 

On Monday, former tight ends coach John McNulty left Notre Dame to become offensive coordinator at Boston College. By Wednesday, according to multiple reports, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman had a new tight ends coach. 

Gerad Parker, who spent the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at West Virginia, is apparently in line to coach tight ends at Notre Dame. West Virginia recently hired former USC offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Graham Harrell to serve in a similar capacity with the Mountaineers. 

Parker reportedly interviewed with Notre Dame on Tuesday. The 41-year-old will be the sixth new coach added to Freeman’s first staff at Notre Dame. The lone vacancy remains at defensive coordinator. 

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There was no official word Wednesday from Notre Dame on the hiring of Parker, a Louisa, Kentucky native and 2003 graduate of the University of Kentucky who has had multiple stops as a college assistant. Those include Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin, Marshall and Purdue, where he also worked with Freeman.

Parker spent four seasons (2013-16) with the Boilermakers, where he coached tight ends and wide receivers and served as recruiting coordinator. In 2016, when Purdue fired coach Darrell Hazell, Parker served as interim head coach the final six games of the season. Purdue went 0-6. 

Former Purdue interim head coach Gerad Parker is shown in this 2016 file photo. Parker, who was most recently the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at West Virginia, is expected to be named the new tight ends coach at Notre Dame.

Parker and Freeman were also on the same staff at Cincinnati, but only briefly. Parker was hired to coach running backs at UC in January 2017, but resigned after about a month to take a job at East Carolina. That offer was rescinded after Parker was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in West Lafayette in February 2017.

Also on that 2017 Cincinnati staff were Notre Dame defensive line coach Al Washington and special teams coach Brian Mason.

Parker eventually wound up at Duke, where he spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Prior to his two seasons at West Virginia, Parker worked one year (2019) as wide receivers coach at Penn State. 

A former wide receiver, Parker caught 65 passes for 1,504 and 20 touchdowns his senior year at Lawrence (Ky.) County High School to earn Mr. Football finalist consideration. He caught 15 passes for 168 yards at Kentucky, all in his fifth (and final) season in 2004 as a graduate student. 

Parker’s hiring means that nearly the entire Irish offensive coaching staff has turned over since former coach Brian Kelly left in late November for LSU. The lone holdover is offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.

Harry Hiestand (offensive line) and Chansi Stuckey (wide receiver) were officially recognized by the program last week as new hires. On Monday, Notre Dame reportedly finalized the hiring of former Indiana assistant Deland McCullough, now the Irish running backs coach. He'll replace Lance Taylor, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Louisville. 

Parker will work his first season in South Bend with arguably the top tight end in the country in junior-to-be Michael Mayer, who caught a team-high 71 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns last season. With so many questions at wide receiver heading into 2022, Mayer likely becomes target No. 1 for sophomore-to-be quarterback Tyler Buchner. 

Also returning to the tight end room in 2022 are Kevin Bauman, Cane Berrong, Mitchell Evans and George Takacs. Bauman and Berrong missed extensive time last season with injuries.