Mike Denbrock

Mike Denbrock Named Notre Dame Associate Head Football Coach

March 2, 2015

University of Notre Dame wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock – a member of the Fighting Irish coaching staff since 2010, the Irish offensive coordinator in 2014 and a 29-year veteran of college coaching overall–has been promoted to associate head football coach.

Denbrock, who will oversee the offense, guided a Notre Dame group that averaged 32.8 points per game in 2014–the most for the Irish since 2005 (36.7). Notre Dame averaged 444.9 yards of total offense per game last season, the most since 2009 (451.75).

The Irish scored at least 27 points a school-record 11 times a year ago. The 1949 national championship team, as well as the 1991, 1993 and 2005 squads, held the previous Notre Dame record of 10 games with at least 27 points.

Denbrock coached sophomore wide receiver Will Fuller to the greatest sophomore receiving season in school history. Fuller set school sophomore records in touchdown receptions (15), catches (76) and receiving yards (1,094). He ranked tied for third in the Football Bowl Subdivision in TD catches, 21st in receiving yards, tied for 24th in total TDs (15), 23rd in receiving yards per game (84.2) and tied for 34th in receptions per game (5.8).

Denbrock served as Notre Dame’s interim offensive coordinator during preparations for the 2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl. The Irish knocked off Rutgers 29-16 and rolled up 494 total yards while running a season-high 90 offensive plays. The 494 total yards of offense against the Scarlet Knights marked the third most by the Irish in a game in ’13. Notre Dame also racked up 175 yards on the ground that day against the nation’s fourth-best rushing defense.

After an earlier stint as an Irish assistant (2002-04) Denbrock returned to Notre Dame in 2010 under new head coach Brian Kelly and spent the next two seasons coaching the Irish tight ends. He played a major role in the development of future National Football League tight ends Kyle Rudolph (2011, second-round draft pick, Minnesota Vikings) and Tyler Eifert (2013, first-round pick, Cincinnati Bengals). Both Rudolph and Eifert were the first tight ends selected in their respective drafts.

In 2010 Rudolph collected 28 receptions for 328 yards and three TDs in the first six games of the Irish season before a hamstring injury ended his year. Despite Rudolph’s absence, Denbrock developed Eifert into an immediate receiving threat. Eifert had not managed a reception over his first two seasons at Notre Dame, but he snagged 27 passes for 352 yards and two TDs in ’10.

In 2011 Denbrock helped Eifert to one of the best seasons ever by a Notre Dame tight end. Eifert ranked second on the team with 63 receptions for 803 yards and five TDs. A Mackey Award finalist, Eifert led all FBS tight ends in receptions and receiving yards. He also set Notre Dame single-season records for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. Eifert earned selection to the 2011 Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America first team. He became Notre Dame’s first tight end named first-team All-American since Derek Brown in 1991.

Denbrock merited selection as one of Tom Lemming’s assistant coaches of the year in 2011. He also was named one of the top 25 recruiters by Rivals.com (2012) and selected one of the top 50 recruiters by 247Sports.com following the ’12 signing day.

Denbrock transitioned to coach the outside wide receivers and served as passing game coordinator in 2012 and 2013. He played a critical role in the improvement of wideout TJ Jones, who developed into one of the most productive receivers in school history.

Jones led the Irish in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs in 2013. He became the seventh wide-out in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. His 70 catches, 1,108 yards and nine TD catches rank eighth, seventh and tied for 10th, respectively, in single-season school history. Jones recorded 100-yard receiving games on five different occasions in 2013–tied for fourth in school history. He also registered a TD grab in seven consecutive games during one stretch of the season, the second-longest streak in school history.

Jones finished his career with 181 catches for 2,429 yards and 19 TDs to rank second, sixth and tied for sixth, respectively, in school history. He ended his career as one of six wide-outs in school history with at least 150 receptions, 2,000 receiving yards and 15 TD grabs.

Denbrock previously coached Notre Dame’s offensive tackles and tight ends from 2002-04. Earlier in his career he spent a combined eight seasons with Kelly at Grand Valley State University. Kelly served as the Lakers’ head coach with Denbrock on his coaching staff from 1992-98. The two worked together as graduate assistants at Grand Valley State in 1987.

Denbrock spent the 2009 season as the associate head coach at Indiana State University. With the Sycamores he served as special teams coordinator and also coached linebackers. Denbrock helped turn redshirt freshman linebacker Aaron Archie into an all-conference player in his first season of collegiate football. Archie paced the Sycamores with 117 tackles and his 10.6 tackles per game average ranked 12th in the nation. He became a second-team all-league performer in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and was a member of the league’s all-newcomer team.

Denbrock also coordinated the special teams at Indiana State and helped junior return specialist Darrius Gates earn honorable mention accolades in 2009 from the MVC. Gates led the league and ranked fifth nationally by averaging 27.1 yards per kickoff return. He returned 19 kickoffs for 514 yards and had a long return of 57 yards against Eastern Illinois University.

Prior to Indiana State, Denbrock served as the offensive line coach at the University of Washington from 2005-08 under former Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham. In 2007 the Huskie line helped running back Louis Rankin become the first 1,000-yard rusher at Washington since 1997. Quarterback Jake Locker also nearly eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in 2007 as he gained 986 yards on the ground. Center Juan Garcia earned second-team all-Pacific-10 honors that season.

During his first stint at Notre Dame Denbrock’s offensive tackles and tight ends proved big factors as the Irish produced 1,000-yard rushers in 2002 (Ryan Grant) and 2003 (Julius Jones). He also coached several players who became NFL draft selections, including offensive tackles Ryan Harris (2007, third round, Denver Broncos), Jim Molinaro (2004, seventh round, Washington Redskins), Jordan Black (2003, fifth round, Kansas City Chiefs) and Brennan Curtin (2003, sixth round, Green Bay Packers), plus tight ends John Carlson (2008, second round, Seattle Seahawks), Anthony Fasano (2006, second round, Dallas Cowboys) and Jerome Collins (2005, fifth round, St. Louis Rams).

Notre Dame’s offensive tackles and tight ends helped the Irish average 218.1 passing yards per game in 2004. At the time, that marked the fourth highest average in school history.

In 2003 Jones rushed for 1,268 yards and 10 TDs to become the eighth 1,000-yard rusher in school history. Jones’ rushing total remains tied for the fourth best in Notre Dame history. Jones eclipsed 200 rushing yards in a game three times that year, including a school-record 262 yards against Pittsburgh. He totaled 221 yards against Navy and 218 versus Stanford.

In his first season at Notre Dame in 2002 Denbrock’s tackles and tight ends helped Grant garner the 14th-best single-season rushing performance in school history with 1,085 yards. Grant’s season was highlighted by the 16th-best single-game rushing day when he gained 190 rushing yards at Air Force.

Prior to coming to Notre Dame Denbrock worked in a similar capacity with the offensive tackles and tight ends at Stanford University under Willingham. His line helped lead the way for a Stanford rushing attack that ranked 23rd in the nation, averaging more than 200 yards per game and scoring 27 TDs.

Before arriving at Stanford Denbrock worked as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and offensive and defensive line coach for the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League in 1999-2000. In his second season, Denbrock helped the Destroyers land a playoff berth. His 1999 defense finished third in the league in both scoring and total defense.

Prior to his two years in Buffalo Denbrock returned to his alma mater, Grand Valley State University, where he coached with Kelly. Denbrock served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 1996-98, and his defensive unit ranked among the nation’s top 30 in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense each season. His 1996 unit led the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference in total defense and ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense.

As the offensive coordinator Denbrock and his squad rated first in the MIFC in both total and scoring offense from 1992-94. In 1995 his offense ranked eighth in the nation in scoring and 12th in total offense. Eight of his players earned first-team All-America honors during his seven years at Grand Valley State. While working with Kelly, Denbrock and the Lakers won an MIFC title in 1998 and co-championships in 1992 and 1997.

Denbrock’s first full-time coaching assignment came in 1990-91 as the tackles and tight ends coach at Illinois State University. He focused on the offensive line as a graduate assistant on the 1989 Michigan State University team that played in the Aloha Bowl, and he helped with the quarterbacks and receivers on the 1988 Spartan squad that was selected for the Gator Bowl, both seasons under head coach George Perles. He broke into coaching as a graduate assistant from 1986-87 at Grand Valley State where he worked with the offensive tackles and tight ends. Kelly worked with the defensive backs in his first season as a graduate assistant with the Lakers in 1987.

A 1987 graduate of Grand Valley State Denbrock holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. As a member of Grand Valley State’s football team from 1982-85, he won the Phillip Shultz Award for attitude and commitment to the football program.

Born in Albion, Michigan, Denbrock is married to the former Dianne Swanson. The couple has a son, Chance.

The Denbrock File

Year School/Franchise Assignment
2015 Notre Dame Associate Head Coach/Wide Receivers
2014 Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers (8-5, Music City Bowl champion)
2013 Notre Dame Outside Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator (9-4, Pinstripe Bowl champion)
2012 Notre Dame Outside Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator (12-1, BCS National Championship Game)
2011 Notre Dame Tight Ends (8-5, Champs Sports Bowl)
2010 Notre Dame Tight Ends (8-5, Sun Bowl champion)
2009 Indiana State Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers
2008 Washington Offensive Line
2007 Washington Offensive Line
2006 Washington Offensive Line
2005 Washington Offensive Line
2004 Notre Dame Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends (Insight Bowl)
2003 Notre Dame Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends
2002 Notre Dame Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends (10-3, Gator Bowl)
2001 Stanford Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends (9-3, Seattle Bowl)
2000 Buffalo (AFL) Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Offensive and Defensive Line
1999 Buffalo (AFL) Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Offensive and Defensive Line
1998 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (9-3, MIFC champion, NCAA Division II first round)
1997 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (9-2, MIFC co-champion)
1996 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers (8-3)
1995 Grand Valley State Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers (8-3)
1994 Grand Valley State Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers (8-4, NCAA Division II first round)
1993 Grand Valley State Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers (6-3-2)
1992 Grand Valley State Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers (8-3, MIFC co-champion)
1991 Illinois State Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends
1990 Illinois State Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends
1989 Michigan State Graduate Assistant (8-4, Aloha Bowl champion)
1988 Michigan State Graduate Assistant (6-5-1, Gator Bowl)
1987 Grand Valley State Graduate Assistant (7-4)
1987 Grand Valley State Graduate Assistant (9-2)