Mike Elston, Notre Dame’s longtime defensive line coach, flipped roles with Polian last spring and recently announced plans to stay on as a vital part of new coach Marcus Freeman’s first staff. Pressed last month on why he would name Polian as first among equals on his Fighting Irish staff, Kelly pointed right to special teams.
“Special teams, it’s a hard job,” Kelly said. “That‘s a lot of work. A lot of the little things on a day-to-day basis that go along with that. You’ve got to take that whole group. Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, defensive backs, linebackers. That‘s a lot of work.”
The well-traveled Polian, who also ran special teams under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame from 2005-09, showed a gift for convincing future early-round draft picks such as Chase Claypool, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Kyle Hamilton that running downfield on coverage units would help enhance their value to NFL teams. headtopics.com
Polian, 46, would show prospective special teamers essentially a recruiting video with input from current and former NFL executives along with statistical evidence of how special-teams value could enhance and prolong a player’s pro career. TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Brian Polian of the Nevada Wolf Pack walks the sidelines
... [+]during the first quarter of the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl against the Colorado State Rams at Arizona Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)Getty ImagesEntrenched as he was at Notre Dame, Polian also has stops at Texas A&M (2012), Stanford (2010-11), Central Florida (2004) and Baylor (1999-2000) on his resume. He also has deep connections on the Hawaii recruiting circuit, which Notre Dame has mined extensively over the years.
It also figured that Polian, passed over by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick despite a solid four-year head coaching run at Nevada from 2013-16, would be open to a new challenge. Under Kelly, who also poached Jacob Flint to run LSU”s strength-and-conditioning program after Notre Dame’s Matt Balis rejected overtures, Polian will get that opportunity.
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