NOTRE DAME, Indiana — Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly has announced the promotion of Chris O’Leary to Pat and Jana Eilers Defensive Backs Coach/Safeties for the Fighting Irish. O’Leary previously served as a graduate assistant coach with the defense during the 2020 campaign after first working as a defensive analyst on Notre Dame’s staff upon his arrival in March of 2018.
“Chris has been on a job interview the past two years,” said Kelly. “He has done an exceptional job of mentoring and coaching the rovers, and in particular Jeremiah Owusu-Koramaoh and Paul Moala. His ability to build relationships and motivate our student-athletes has been apparent to me, and made him the ideal candidate for this job.”
Throughout his time under the Dome, the Irish have seen two trips to the College Football Playoff. In each of O’Leary’s three seasons, Notre Dame’s defense has been among the nation’s best in several categories, including being ranked in the Top-10 of the FBS in fewest TD passes allowed (10, third), passing yards allowed/attempt (5.6, T-second), pass efficiency defense (105.6, sixth), fewest plays of at least 30 yards (17, T-10th), and fewest TDs allowed (28, T-10th) in 2018. The following season, 2019, the Irish earned Top-10 standings in total fumbles recovered (19, first), takeaways (28, T-fourth), passing yards allowed/game (168.5, third) and team passing efficiency defense (110.15, fifth).
In the 2020 season, the Irish defense was one of the best in the nation defending third down conversions, allowing just a 0.314 success rate (12th nationally). Its first season in a conference, Notre Dame led the ACC in scoring defense (14th in the FBS), surrendering 19.7 points per game, and team passing efficiency defense (126.19).
“Coach O’Leary understands the art of winning every second, minute and hour of each day,” said 2020 Butkus Award winner Owusu-Kormaoah. “He taught us that if we would continue to focus on painting the small details, that we would one day cultivate a masterpiece.”
O’Leary was a graduate assistant at Georgia State for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, prior to coaching safeties in 2017 at Florida Tech.
O’Leary, a wide receiver, saw action in 27 games at Indiana State. He hauled in 47 receptions for 397 yards, while also completing 2-of-3 passes for 61 yards and one touchdown for the Sycamores. As a junior in 2013, O’Leary was part of a double-lateral pass reception for a touchdown which was featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.
A native of Terre Haute, Indiana, O’Leary lettered three years for Coach Chris Barrett at North Vigo High School, earning all-state honorable mention, all-county and all-conference honors. He was voted his team’s most valuable player and offensive player of the year, and garnered the Humphrey Award as Vigo County’s MVP.
O’Leary received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Indiana State in May of 2015. He went on to earn a master’s degree in sports administration from Georgia State in December of 2016.
O’Leary and his wife, Jessie, have one son, Jack.