'Invaluable' Gerad Parker gets the nod as Notre Dame's new offensive coordinator

Mike Berardino
ND Insider
Gerard Parker, shown here as Purdue's interim head coach in 2016, was officially named Notre Dame's offensive coordinator on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. Parker spent the 2022 season as the Irish tight ends coach. He replaces Tommy Rees who left for the same position at Alabama.

SOUTH BEND — It didn't take Gerad Parker long to earn the faith of the young coach he will follow as Notre Dame's offensive coordinator.

“He’s sharp, has a great demeanor about him, great with our players,” Tommy Rees said last August of Parker, officially promoted Saturday from tight ends coach. “I trust him like I’ve worked with him 10 years.”

A longtime confidant of Irish head coach Marcus Freeman, who will join Parker at a news conference on Monday morning at Notre Dame Stadium, Parker was the only in-house candidate with experience as an offensive play-caller.

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Utah’s Andy Ludwig and Kansas State’s Collin Klein were the only other known candidates to interview in South Bend.

Parker, 42, spent two seasons (2020-21) as co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at West Virginia after serving as passing game coordinator at Penn State in 2019. Parker worked with Freeman during previous stops at Purdue (2013-16) and Cincinnati (2017).

“I know firsthand the person, teacher, recruiter and innovative football mind he is,” Freeman said in a statement. “I look forward to watching our offense flourish under Gerad’s leadership and direction.”

A native of Louisa, Ky., who played wide receiver at Kentucky, Parker proved to be a valuable resource for Rees before his departure on Feb. 3 for the same position at Alabama.

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“Our relationship has grown exponentially,” Rees said on Nov. 15. “He’s somebody I go to a lot now … just seeking guidance from some of the guys that have been around. We have guys here that have been a great sounding board for me throughout the season.”

Notre Dame tight ends coach Gerad Parker talks with reporters during the media availability Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

The Mountaineers went a combined 12-11 and finished 82nd and 88th nationally in scoring offense during Parker’s tenure, but his knowledge of the in-game ebbs and flows and the timing aspect of the risk/reward nature of play-calling proved vital for Rees.

“ ‘G’ has been awesome,” Rees said in late August. “He’s been an unbelievable help to me, great for our room. The back and forth we can have, conversations about areas of the game plan — having a guy you can just trust to take part in the game plan and say, ‘What are your thoughts here?’ He is an invaluable member of what we have going on right now.

“There have been situational conversations we have had that have been tremendous. Some route ideas, nuanced things, drill ideas that really enlighten what we do as an offense. Without him, those things don’t come up.”

When former Notre Dame tight ends coach John McNulty was hired at Boston College as offensive coordinator in late January 2022, Freeman turned to Parker as his replacement. McNulty, one of Rees’ prime mentors in coaching, was recently hired to the Alabama staff as an offensive analyst after being fired at Boston College.

With the start of spring practice less than a month away and Notre Dame also searching for Harry Hiestand’s replacement after the 64-year-old offensive line guru retired suddenly on Feb. 12, having Parker in place boosts continuity as Wake Forest graduate transfer Sam Hartman prepares to battle rising redshirt sophomore Tyler Buchner for the starting quarterback role.  

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.