Notre Dame football: Hiring of defensive line coach Al Washington made official

Justin Frommer
ND Insider
Jan 1, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebackers coach Al Washington reacts from the sideline against the Utah Utes during the 2022 Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Freeman and Notre Dame wasted little time finding a new defensive line coach. 

Two days after Mike Elston, the Irish's previous longest-tenured assistant, left his position in South Bend to take the same role at Michigan on Jan. 13, Notre Dame turned to Al Washington from Ohio State to take over Elston's role, according to multiple media reports. 

ESPN's Pete Thammel was the first to report. Notre Dame officially announced Washington's hiring Tuesday afternoon. 

“I have seen firsthand how talented Al Washington is as a coach,” Freeman said in a news release. “He is a great teacher and developer of his players on the field, but is just as impressive in how he goes about building great men off the field. On top of that, he is a passionate recruiter whose work in that area is going to help us compete for a national title.”

Washington spent the past three seasons as the Buckeyes' linebacker coach. He also held that role with the Wolverines in 2018, before heading to Columbus. 

► More:Notre Dame running backs coach Lance Taylor to be new Louisville offensive coordinator

► More:Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston leaving for same job at Michigan

Washington, a Columbus native who played collegiately at Boston College, hasn't coached the defensive line since 2017 at Cincinnati. He also held that role at his alma mater in 2016. 

Washington was also a part of Ohio State defensive coaching staffs that fielded dominant defense over the past three seasons. In 2019, the Buckeyes lead the nation in four statistical categories in 2019, including total defense and passing yards allowed.

In 2020, four of Washington's linebackers (Tuff Borland, Baron Browning, Justin Hilliard and Pete Warner) were drafted in that year's NFL Draft.

When he arrives in South Bend, Washington's defensive line won't be short of talent. Despite the departures of defensive end Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and nose tackle Kurt Hinish, the Irish will return seniors, Justin Ademilola, Jayson Ademilola and Isaiah Foskey, who all announced their plans to return for the 2022 season, bringing their combined 26 career sacks with them.

Notre Dame also signed three defensive lineman in their 2022 football class with four-stars Tyson Ford, Aidan Gobaira and three-star Donovan Hinisch joining the team this season. Ford is the only one of that trio that enrolled on campus early, and has already started classes. 

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman tosses a football around before the 2022 Playstation Fiesta Bowl Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

This has been a hectic week for Freeman, who is trying to put together his staff ahead of his first full season as the Irish's head coach.

Along with Elston's departure, Freeman has to find a new running backs coach, after Lance Taylor took the offensive coordinator position on Scott Satterfield's staff at Louisville Sunday. Freeman also hired ChansStuckey from Baylor earlier this week to take over the wide receiver coach position, left vacant by Del Alexander. 

Earlier this month, Freeman found his replacement for special teams coordinator Brian Polian, who joined former Irish head coach Brian Kelly at LSU, by hiring Brian Mason from Cincinnati, who held the same position with the Bearcats. 

After Washington's reported hiring, Freeman still needs to find his own replacement at defensive coordinator, as well as Taylor's replacement. 

Washington's first game with Notre Dame will be against a familiar opponent, as the Irish travel to Ohio State to open next season on Sept. 3