Jan. 5, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Mike Elston, a versatile defensive coach with 11 years of coaching experience on the Football Bowl Subdivision level, has been hired as the University of Notre Dame’s defensive line coach, Irish head football coach Brian Kelly announced Tuesday.
Elston has coached with Kelly since 2004 and has coached the defensive line in three of the last six years. Elston also has been utilized the last four seasons as the special teams coordinator at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He was also one of Cincinnati’s top recruiters and served as the Bearcats’ lead recruiter in the state of Florida.
In 2009, Elston was promoted to assistant head coach at Cincinnati and also coached the Bearcats’ defensive line while coordinating the special teams. In his first season as Cincinnati’s defensive line coach, Elston was forced to replace all of his starters while helping to implement a new defensive scheme.
The results were an attacking defensive front that limited its opponents to 3.6 rushing yards per carry and helped lead Cincinnati’s defense to the third-most tackles for loss and 10th-most sacks in the nation. The Bearcats’ defensive line combined for 57 tackles for losses and 25.5 of the team’s 37 sacks for the season. Elston’s line alone averaged more sacks per game than 63 FBS teams (including Notre Dame) in 2009.
The Bearcats were led in 2009 by Ricardo Mathews and Alex Daniels, two first-year starters at defensive end. Mathews received second-team all-BIG EAST honors and led Cincinnati with 12.5 tackles for loss. Daniels paced the defensive line with 56 tackles and led the team with 8.5 sacks.
Elston served as special teams coordinator in 2009 for the third straight season and helped Mardy Gilyard earn the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year award for the second consecutive year. Gilyard averaged 30.5 yards on 42 kickoff returns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. He also averaged 12.6 yards on 16 punt returns including one punt return for TD.
Elston’s kickoff return unit ranked second in the nation, averaging 28.5 yards per kickoff return, and only three schools returned more kickoffs for TDs than Cincinnati’s three returns. His punt return unit averaged 13.0 yards per return which ranked 17th in the nation.
Jake Rogers in 2009 replaced Kevin Huber, the most decorated punter in Cincinnati history. Rogers landed 15 of 43 punts inside the 20 and recorded eight punts of at least 50 yards. He also doubled as the kickoff specialist and boomed 23 touchbacks on 92 kickoffs.
Under Elston’s direction, Huber was selected as the first-team punter on the Associated Press’ All-America team in 2007 and 2008. Huber was also tabbed a first-team All-American in 2008 by the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers Association of America. He ranked seventh in the nation, averaging 45.0 yards per punt, and helped the Bearcats lead the nation in net punting at 41.5 yards. Cincinnati became only the fourth team in NCAA FBS history to lead the nation in net punting in consecutive seasons. Huber was selected in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Gilyard also was named BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008 after leading the BIG EAST and ranking 11th nationally by averaging 27.6 yards on 36 kickoff returns. Gilyard returned two kickoffs for TDs, the first a 97-yarder at Oklahoma and the second for 100 yards at West Virginia.
In 2007, Huber was named a consensus All-American and recipient of the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year award after he led the nation averaging 46.9 yards per punt. Huber also helped the Bearcats rank first in the nation in net punting at 39.6 yards.
Prior to Cincinnati, Elston coached under Kelly at Central Michigan where he helped the Chippewas in a variety of roles. In 2006, he served as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach and instructed two all-Mid-American Conference linebackers, including the top tackler in the league. Elston’s work with special teams sparked a drastic improvement in the punting unit, which finished 19th nationally in net punting.
Elston spent the 2005 season as the Central Michigan co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. He helped develop a unit that led the MAC in rushing defense, allowing 113.7 yards per game, a major improvement for a team that ranked last in the MAC in rushing defense two years earlier. Elston worked directly with defensive end Dan Bazuin who led the nation with 26.5 tackles for loss and tied a MAC record with 16 sacks.
The first full-time assistant coaching job for Elston came at Eastern Michigan where he coached from 2001-03. He doubled as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator his final two years in Ypsilanti, Mich., and helped the Eagles record the most improved defense in Division I-A in both scoring and total yards allowed in 2003. He began his tenure at Eastern Michigan as the defensive ends coach in 2001.
Elston got his first taste of coaching as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, the University of Michigan. He worked with the Wolverines from 1999-2000 and helped Michigan to a 19-5 record during that time. Prior to becoming a graduate assistant he served as an assistant to the football camp director at Michigan from 1997-98.
Elston lettered for the Wolverines as an outside linebacker from 1994-96. Michigan finished in the top 20 each year he lettered and he helped the Wolverines to a 25-12 record in his three seasons.
A native of St. Marys, Ohio, Elston was born Nov. 1, 1974, and attended Memorial High School in St. Marys. He and his wife, Beth, have two daughters, Olivia and Sophia.
THE ELSTON FILEYear School Assignment1999-2000 Michigan Graduate Assistant2001 Eastern Michigan Defensive Ends2002-03 Eastern Michigan Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator2004 Central Michigan Defensive Line2005 Central Michigan Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line2006 Central Michigan Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator2007-08 Cincinnati Tight Ends/Special Teams Coord./Recruiting Coord.2009 Cincinnati Asst. Head Coach/Defensive Line/Special Teams Coord.2010 Notre Dame Defensive Line