McNulty Mickens release

John McNulty, Mike Mickens Join Irish Football Staff

NOTRE DAME, Indiana — University of Notre Dame Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly has announced the addition of John McNulty and Mike Mickens to his coaching staff.

McNulty, a veteran NFL and collegiate coach, will work with the Irish tight ends. Mickens, an All-American cornerback for Kelly at the University of Cincinnati, will be a defensive backs coach, focusing on cornerbacks.

“John and Mike bring a wealth of experience to our football program as players, coaches and educators,” Kelly said. “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 and Mickens round out Kelly’s coaching staff for the 2020 campaign:

  • Bob Hinton Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea (fourth season)
  • John and Bobbie Arlotta Offensive Coordinator Tommy Rees (first season in role/fourth season at Notre Dame)
  • Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach Mike Elston (third season in role/11th season at Notre Dame)
  • Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator Brian Polian (fourth season)
  • Pat and Jana Eilers Family Defensive Pass Game Coordinator/Safeties Coach Terry Joseph (second season in role/third season at Notre Dame)
  • Run Game Coordinator/Running Backs Lance Taylor (first season in role/second season at Notre Dame)
  • Offensive Line Coach Jeff Quinn (second season in role/sixth season at Notre Dame)
  • Wide Receivers Coach Del Alexander (fourth season)
  • Tight Ends Coach John McNulty (first season)
  • Defensive Backs/Cornerbacks Coach Mike Mickens (first season)

McNulty embarks on his 30th season in football since beginning as a graduate assistant at Michigan in 1991. After a playing career as a walk-on safety at Penn State, McNulty has spent his entire career on the offensive side of the football with collegiate stops including Rutgers, UConn and Penn State, as well as NFL jobs in Jacksonville, Dallas, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and San Diego/Los Angeles. Having worked for legendary coaches including Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin, McNulty has served as coach for a slew of players including Larry Fitzgerald, Marcus Mariota and Kenny Britt.

“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. “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 first made his name as an All-American corner on Brian Kelly’s Cincinnati teams. He led the Bearcats to a BIG EAST championship and Orange Bowl berth as a senior in 2008, while becoming the school’s career leader in interceptions. As a coach, Mickens has quickly risen through the ranks. Most recently, he helped his alma mater to a 2019 American Athletic Conference East Division Championship and consecutive bowl wins in 2018 and ‘19. The Bearcats led the conference in scoring defense last fall.

“I was drawn to Notre Dame because of the competitiveness on and off the field,” Mickens said. “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.

See below for bios on McNulty and Mickens.

Kelly and the Irish open spring practice on Thursday, March 5, in the Irish Athletics Center. The spring culminates in the annual Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, April 18, at 12:30 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased at

John McNulty Bio


  • Walk-on safety at Penn State, was a part of two bowl teams for the Nittany Lions
  • Began coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan
  • Spent six seasons in the NFL as an assistant, including stints working for Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin


  • First season at Notre Dame in 2020, coaching the Irish tight ends
  • Spent the 2019 season as an analyst at his alma mater, helping Penn State to a Cotton Bowl victory over Memphis
  • Served two stints at Rutgers (2004-08, 2018), including three seasons as offensive coordinator
  • Led one of the most prolific offenses in Rutgers history in 2007, as the Scarlet Knights became the first team in FBS history with a 3,000-yard passer (Mike Teal), 2,000-yard rusher (Ray Rice) and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood)
  • That season, the Scarlet Knights set school records for scoring, first downs and total offense
  • Britt and Underwood were the first teammates in BIG EAST history with 1,000 receiving yards in the same season
  • Rutgers went to four bowls in five years during his first stint in New Jersey, including three straight bowl victories
  • Was the tight ends coach for the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers for two seasons
  • Coached receivers for the Arizona Cardinals, including All-Pro selection Larry Fitzgerald
  • Mentored QB Mike Glennon to all-rookie honors during the 2013 season in Tampa Bay
  • Spent two seasons as QB coach for the Titans, including Marcus Mariota’s all-rookie campaign which saw the QB tie Peyton Manning’s record for games with at least three TD passes by a rookie (four)
  • Mariot also broke Tennessee franchise rookie records for passing TDs (19), completions (230) and passing yards (2,818)


WR Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)

  • Pro Bowl selection all three seasons coached

QB Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans)

  • Set Titans franchise records for passing TDs, completions and passing yards by a rookie

WR Kenny Britt (Rutgers)

  • Part of a record-setting offensive attack at Rutgers in 2007
  • Went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL

TE Antonio Gates (San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers)

  • Had 83 receptions for 864 yards and 10 TDs in two seasons at the age of 37 playing for McNulty 

Mike Mickens Bio


  • Played for Brian Kelly at the University of Cincinnati where he became the school’s career leader in interceptions (14) and interception return yards (296)
  • Was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award in 2008, helping the Bearcats to an Orange Bowl berth


  • First season at Notre Dame in 2020, coaching cornerbacks
  • Reunited with head coach Brian Kelly, for whom Mickens was a three-time All-BIG EAST selection at Cincinnati
  • Comes to Notre Dame following two seasons coaching cornerbacks at his alma mater, where the Bearcats had back-to-back 11-win seasons, won two bowl games and the American Athletic Conference East Division Championship in 2019
  • The 2019 UC squad led the AAC in scoring defense for the second-straight season and ranked among the league’s top-three in rushing and total defense
  • Mentored Ahmad Gardner to Freshman All-America status and first team all-conference honors
  • The 2018 edition of the Bearcats defense ranked among the top-15 nationally in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense
  • Spent four years as the cornerbacks coach at Bowling Green
  • Helped the Falcons to a MAC championship in 2015, as BGSU was the only team in the conference with more interceptions (20) than TD passes allowed (19), contributing to a league-leading plus-12 turnover ratio
  • The 2014 seasons saw a pair of freshman corners combine for nine interceptions, including a school freshman record of five by Nick Johnson
  • Mickens began his coaching career at Idaho after serving as a defensive assistant at Cincinnati and Indiana State
  • Selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2009 NFL Draft
  • Had stints with Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, as well as the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, before retiring due to injury
  • Career interceptions leader at Cincinnati (14), where he earned All-America honors from the FWAA and Playboy in 2008
  • Was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award in 2008, as well as a first team All-BIG EAST selection
  • Dayton, Ohio, native graduated from Cincinnati with a bachelor’s in criminal justice in 2011


CB Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)

  • Freshman All-American cornerback at Cincinnati in 2019 with three interceptions and eight pass break-ups

CB Alfonso Mack (Bowling Green)

  • Had six interceptions and 58 tackles while leading BGSU to a MAC Championship
  • Eight tackles and an interception in MAC Championship game victory over Northern Illinois