Jan. 5, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Mike Denbrock, a 24-year coaching veteran with recruiting connections to the West Coast and ties to both the University of Notre Dame and current Irish head football coach Brian Kelly, has been hired as Notre Dame’s tight ends coach, Kelly announced Tuesday.
Denbrock returns to Notre Dame where he 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. Kelly served as the Lakers’ head coach and Denbrock was on his coaching staff from 1992-98. The two were graduate assistants together at Grand Valley State in 1987.
Denbrock spent the 2009 season as the associate head coach at Indiana State. With the Sycamores, he was the special teams coordinator and also coached the 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 was named a second-team 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 Missouri Valley Football Conference. 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.
Prior to Indiana State, Denbrock served as the offensive line coach at the University of Washington from 2005-08. In 2007, the Husky 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 time at Notre Dame, Denbrock’s offensive tackles and tight ends were 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), Jim Molinaro (2004, seventh round, Washington), Jordan Black (2003, fifth round, Kansas City) and Brennan Curtin (2003, sixth round, Green Bay) plus tight ends John Carlson (2008, second round, Seattle), Anthony Fasano (2006, second round, Dallas) and Jerome Collins (2005, fifth round, St. Louis).
Notre Dame’s offensive tackles and tight ends helped the Irish average 218.1 passing yards per game in 2004. At the time, that was the fourth-highest average in school history.
In 2003, Jones rushed for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns to become the eighth 1,000-yard rusher in school history. Jones’ rushing total tied for the fourth best in Notre Dame history. Jones eclipsed 200 rushing yards in a game three times including a school record 262 yards against Pittsburgh. He also totaled 221 yards against Navy and 218 versus Stanford.
In his first season at Notre Dame, Denbrock’s tackles and tight ends helped Grant garner the 10th-best single-season rushing performance in school history with 1,085 yards. Grant’s season was highlighted by the 12th-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. His line helped lead the way for a Stanford rushing attack which ranked 23rd in the nation, averaging more than 200 yards per game and scoring 27 TDs.
Before arriving at Stanford, Denbrock was the 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, 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 defense led the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference and was 11th nationally in scoring defense while also leading the conference in total defense.
As the offensive coordinator, Denbrock’s squad was 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.
Denbrock’s first full-time coaching assignment came in 1990-91 as the tackles and tight ends coach at Illinois State. He focused on the offensive line as a graduate assistant on the 1989 Michigan State that played in the Aloha Bowl and helped with the quarterbacks and receivers on the 1988 Spartans squad that was selected for the Gator Bowl. 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 Jan. 29, 1964, in Albion, Mich., Denbrock is married to the former Dianne Swanson.
THE DENBROCK FILEYear School Assignment1986-87 Grand Valley State Graduate Assistant1988-89 Michigan State Graduate Assistant1990-91 Illinois State Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends1992-95 Grand Valley State Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers1996-98 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers1999-2000 Buffalo (AFL) Asst. Head Coach/Def. Coord./Offensive-Defensive Line2001 Stanford Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends2002-04 Notre Dame Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends2005-08 Washington Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends2009 Indiana State Assoc. Head Coach/Special Teams Coord./Linebackers2010 Notre Dame Tight Ends