Notre Dame makes official football staff hirings of McNulty, Mickens

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Three days before Notre Dame starts spring football practice, head coach Brian Kelly announced Monday the hirings of tight ends coach John McNulty and cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens.

“John and Mike bring a wealth of experience to our football program as players, coaches and educators,” Kelly said in a press release. “John’s decades of experience at the college and pro level will add to our offensive staff. Mike has shown an incredible ability to get the most out of his players and I am excited to add him to our staff. Both are the perfect additions to help us continue graduating champions.”

McNulty’s 30th season as football coach will come this year at Notre Dame. He finished the 2019 season as an analyst at Penn State after being fired as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers four games into the season.

Before returning to Rutgers — where he previously coached from 2004-08 — in 2018, McNulty spent two seasons coaching tight ends for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. Those are the only two years McNulty spent coaching tight ends exclusively. McNulty, a former walk-on safety at Penn State, started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan in 1991. He also coached collegiately at UConn and in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.

“My family and I are honored and thrilled to join the great tradition and pursuit of academic and athletic excellence that is the mission here at Notre Dame,” McNulty said in a release. “Coach Kelly has made it clear about his vision for this program to continue to evolve and be successful on and off the field. That vision has been successful everywhere coach Kelly has been and I’m excited to join his staff as we continue that standard of excellence at Notre Dame.”

Mickens joins Notre Dame after spending the past two seasons coaching cornerbacks at Cincinnati, his alma mater. Mickens, who played cornerback for the Bearcats from 2005-08, was named an FWAA All-American following the 2007 season. He was also considered one of the top defensive backs in 2008 when he became a Jim Thorpe Award finalist.

Mickens started coaching in 2011 as a graduate assistant at Cincinnati. He spent a year each at Indiana State as a graduate assistant and Idaho as the cornerbacks coach before a four-year stint at Bowling Green.

Mickens played his final two seasons at Cincinnati with Kelly as his head coach.

“I was drawn to Notre Dame because of the competitiveness on and off the field,” Mickens said in a release. “The high standard and tradition makes you want to be a part of something special here. Having played for coach Kelly, I know firsthand that he’s always striving to bring out the best in each student-athlete and I’m excited to be a part of that process.”

Kelly is scheduled to speak with reporters following Notre Dame’s first spring practice Thursday.

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Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced Monday the hirings of tight ends coach John McNulty (left) and cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens.