UND Staff

Brian VanGorder

Defensive Coordinator



Hometown: Jackson, Mich.

High School: West Bloomfield High School

College: Wayne State (Criminal Justice, 1992)

Children: Daughter – Morgan; Sons – Mack, Malone, Molloy and Montgomery


1977-80 Wayne State Linebacker


1989-90 Grand Valley State Linebackers

1991 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

1992-94 Wayne State Head Coach

1995-96 Central Florida Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator

1997 Central Florida Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator

1998-99 Central Michigan Defensive Coordinator

2000 Western Illinois Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2001-04 Georgia Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

2005 Jacksonville Jaguars Linebackers

2006 Georgia Southern Head Coach

2007 Atlanta Falcons Linebackers

2008-11 Atlanta Falcons Defensive Coordinator

2012 Auburn Defensive Coordinator

2013 New York Jets Linebackers

2014 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers

2015-16 Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator


1989 GVSU (NCAA Division II first round) 

1990 GVSU (NCAA Division II first round) 

1991 GVSU (NCAA Division II first round) 

2000 Western Illinois (NCAA Division I-AA first round) 

2001 Georgia (Music City) 

2002 Georgia (Sugar) 

2003 Georgia (Capital One)

2004 Georgia (Outback)

2005 Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL Playoffs)

2008 Atlanta Falcons (NFL Playoffs)

2010 Atlanta Falcons (NFL Playoffs)

2011 Atlanta Falcons (NFL Playoffs)

2014 Notre Dame (Music City)

2015 Notre Dame (Fiesta)


  • Four-year letter-winner as a linebacker at Wayne State University (1977-80)
  • Collected 335 career tackles, which ranks seventh in school history
  • Inducted into the Wayne State University Hall of Fame in 2013


  • Third season as the Irish defensive coordinator in 2016
  • Worked with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly as his defensive coordinator on the Grand Valley State staff more than two decades ago
  • Owns college head coaching experience at Wayne State (1992-94) and Georgia Southern (2006)
  • Coordinated defenses for 17 seasons at the professional and college level, including four in the National Football League, five in the Southeastern Conference and three at Notre Dame
  • Jaylon Smith eclipsed 100 tackles in consecutive seasons and no Power 5 linebacker, other than Smith, made the following claim in 2015: 114 or more tackles, 9.0 TFLs and five PBUs
  • Notre Dame forced a three-and-out on 27.78% of its possessions in 2015, which ranked 16th-best in the FBS
  • Challenged by a rash of injuries and an abundance of inexperienced players in 2014
  • The Irish opened the season with seven first-year starters and were forced to play nine true freshmen — four of whom eventually started
  • Notre Dame’s 2014 depth chart on defense included 23 players, 17 of which were in their first or second-year of eligibility
  • Instrumental in the breakthrough 2014 season of Joe Schmidt, who led the Irish in tackles prior to suffering a season-ending injury versus Navy on Nov. 1
  • Schmidt registered 65 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions over Notre Dame’s first eight games
  • Served as the New York Jets linebacker coach in 2013
  • Mentored the linebacker tandem of David Harris (123) and DeMario Davis (107), which combined for 230 tackles
  • Instrumental in the re-emergence of outside linebacker Calvin Pace as a dominant pass rusher
  • Pace finished the 2013 season with 10 sacks and reached double digits for the first time in his 11-year NFL career
  • Guided the Atlanta Falcons’ defense as coordinator from 2008-11
  • The Falcons achieved unprecedented success, posting four straight winning seasons (a franchise first), including playoff appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2011
  • The 2011 Falcons defense finished the regular season second in the NFL in red-zone defense, sixth in rushing defense (97.0 yards per game) and 12th in total defense (333.6 yards per game)
  • The 2010 Atlanta defense ranked in the top five in the NFL in scoring defense (18.0, fifth), turnover differential (+14, third) and interceptions (22, fourth)
  • Helped cornerback Brent Grimes to his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2010 after posting a single-season franchise-high 23 passes defended, and tying for the team lead in interceptions (five), while adding 82 tackles
  • John Abraham earned his fourth career Pro Bowl selection in 2010 and third selection to the All-Pro team under the guidance of VanGorder
  • Coached the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebackers in 2005
  • Acted as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Georgia for four years from 2001-04
  • The Bulldogs went 42-10 along the way, won one SEC title, two SEC East Division championships, captured three bowl games and ended up with three straight top-10 finishes in the final national polls
  • Developed four first-round NFL draft picks (Thomas Davis, Charles Grant, David Pollack and Johnathan Sullivan) and four All- Americans at Georgia (Boss Bailey, Davis, Sean James and Pollack)
  • Georgia’s 2002 defense allowed only 31 points during the final seven games, propelling the Bulldogs to a Sugar Bowl win over Florida State (26-13) and a number three ranking in the year’s final polls
  • Coached at Western Illinois (2000), Central Michigan (1998-99), Central Florida (1995-1997), Wayne State (1992-1994) and Grand Valley State (1989-91)


LB Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame)

  • 2016 NFL Draft Second Round pick (Dallas Cowboys)
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2015 Butkus Award Recipient

OLB Calvin Pace (New York Jets)

  • Finished 2013 with 10 sacks
  • Only season in NFL career with 10 or more sacks

DE John Abraham (Atlanta Falcons)

  • Led NFL defensive ends with 13 sacks in 2010
  • Five-time NFL Pro Bowl selection
  • Two-time NFL All-Pro

LB Curtis Lofton (Atlanta Falcons)

  • 2008 Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly NFL All-Rookie

CB Brent Grimes (Atlanta Falcons)

  • Four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection
  • Tied for team lead in interceptions with five in 2010
  • 23 passes defended in 2010 ranked second in the NFL

LB Thomas Davis (Georgia)

  • 2005 NFL Draft First Round pick (Carolina Panthers)
  • 2004 Consensus All-American
  • 2014 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year
  • 2015 NFL Pro Bowl selection
  • 2015 NFL All-Pro

DE David Pollack (Georgia)

  • 2005 NFL Draft First Round pick (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Three-time First Team All-American (2002-04)
  • Two-time Consensus All-American (2003-04)
  • 2004 SEC Player of the Year
  • 2004 SEC Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2004 Chuck Bednarik Award
  • 2003, 2004 Ted Hendricks Award
  • 2004 Lombardi Award
  • 2004 Lott Trophy

DE Charles Grant (Georgia)

  • 2002 NFL Draft First Round pick (New Orleans Saints)

LB Boss Bailey (Georgia)

  • 2003 NFL Draft Second Round pick (Detroit Lions)
  • 2002 First Team All-American

DT Johnathan Sullivan (Georgia)

  • 2003 NFL Draft First Round pick (New Orleans Saints)