Football: Notre Dame makes official hiring of two assistants
SOUTH BEND – One of the additions to first-year Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman’s staff, the guy who’s going to get down in the trenches and work with the offensive line, really needs no introduction.
On Monday morning, he still was given one.
Harry Hiestand, who spent six seasons (2012-17) as the Notre Dame offensive line coach under former head coach Brian Kelly, was officially introduced Monday morning in a university press release. Hiestand, who hasn’t coached since being fired by the Chicago Bears in 2019, replaces former Irish offensive line coach Jeff Quinn, who was not retained when Freeman replaced Kelly in early December.
Hiestand is no stranger to Notre Dame, and no stranger to South Bend. After leaving Notre Dame following the 2017 season, Hiestand and his wife, Terri, kept their house in the area so their two youngest children – Mark and Sarah – could finish their educations at South Bend Saint Joseph High School.
Now, even though he never really left, Hiestand is back.
“Harry built the standard of excellence for the Notre Dame offensive line,” Freeman said in the release. “Our focus is on player development and pushing our players to reach their full potential and that is where Harry excels.”
Develop is what Hiestand mainly does, sometimes, as well as any O-Line coach in the country.
“I think he’s far and away the best offensive line coach in the country," former Irish offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr., told NDInsider in 2016 about Hiestand. "He’s so genuine. He’s the offensive lineman’s o-line coach. He’s focused on that day-to-day grind of, ‘All right, how can we get better today?’ He’s so dialed in.”
Hiestand steps back in to coach what will be a veteran and experienced offensive line in 2022. Notre Dame returns four starters in left tackle Joe Alt, left guard Andrew Kristofic, center Jarrett Patterson and right tackle Josh Lugg. The Irish also return Blake Fisher, who started the first game of the 2021 season against Florida State at left tackle, then started the final game of the 2021 season against Oklahoma State at right tackle after missing the games in between with a knee injury.
Notre Dame could start two sophomores-to-be – Alt and Fisher – at the left and right tackle spots.
Hiestand returns to campus after two seasons with the Chicago Bears, where he tutored former Notre Dame pupils Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars. Prior to his time in the NFL, Hiestand had six former Irish offensive linemen selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. That included four first-round selections in Quenton Nelson (fifth overall), Ronnie Stanley (sixth), Mike McGlinchey (ninth) and Zack Martin (16th). Prior to Hiestand’s arrival, the last Irish offensive lineman taken in the draft’s top three rounds came in 2007.
Hiestand’s last line at Notre Dame was one of his best. In 2017, that group earned the first annual Joe Moore Award, which recognizes the nation’s top offensive line. Notre Dame ranked seventh in the nation with 279.1 rushing yards per game. Two Irish linemen – McGlinchey and Nelson – earned first team All-American honors, a first for the Football Writers Association of America.
Included in the stops of a coaching career that commenced in 1982 as a student assistant at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) High School are Tennessee (2010-11), Illinois (1997-2004), Missouri (1994-96) and Cincinnati (1989-93). The 63-year-old Hiestand is a native of Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Irish also introduce WR coach Stuckey
Hours after officially announcing Hiestand's re-hiring, Notre Dame did the same early Monday afternoon for wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey, who worked last season at Baylor.
“Chansi brings a diverse skill set to our staff,” Freeman said in the university release. “He has NFL playing experience, and also has the ability to connect with our players and push them to develop their craft. I believe with him leading the way, we can build the best receiver room in the country.”
Prior to working at Baylor, Stuckey spent the previous two seasons at Clemson, his alma mater, in player development/graduate assistant roles. This will be his second full season as a position coach at the collegiate level. The 38-year-old Stuckey was a seventh-round NFL draft pick in 2017.
Last week, Notre Dame verified the addition of special teams coach Brian Mason. Still to come with official words/press releases is defensive line coach Al Washington.
Vacancies remain on Freeman’s coaching staff at running back and defensive coordinator.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI