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Parker's Departure Leaves Offensive Coordinator Position Open: Who Are Potential Candidates?

Written by Cade HarperWriter Twitter/X: @CadeHarperIT

Photo by Troy Athletics

Notre Dame will now be on its third offensive coordinator since 2019, and second straight season with different playcallers, after former OC Gerad Parker announced he was taking the head coaching job at Troy University. Now that Head Coach Marcus Freeman has to go on an adventure yet again for a new play caller, who are the names that would be ideal for the program? Here is a preliminary list of names to keep an eye on.

Ryan Grubb/JaMarcus Shephard - Washington OC & Washington WR Coach/Passing Coordinator

One of the best options on the table in my personal opinion is either Ryan Grubb or JaMarcus Shephard from Washington. If you were following the Wide Receiver coach fiasco, before Mike Brown emerged, you would've seen that JaMarcus Shephard was a name to keep an eye out for. Now we believe that there is a possibility that either Shephard or Grubb could emerge as potential candidates for the vacant Offensive Coordinator position. Ryan Grubb has put together one of the best offenses in the country, arguably THE best. He had a Heisman Finalist at QB, and Shephard had three wide receivers at one point averaging 100+ yards a game. Straight video game numbers. Washington finds themselves currently competing for a National Championship in the CFP, and Grubb or Shephard are both definitely high value options. The Huskies ranked 12th in total offense, 1st in Passing Offense, 11th in Scoring, and led the country in plays that connected for 20+ yards! Safe to say that's a pretty legitimate resume for both, and next season, Notre Dame might just have the equivalent amount of talent that the 2023 Husky offense had.

Alex Atkins - Florida State OC/OL Coach

If there was one guy in the country who deserves a raise it would be Alex Atkins. What he did for Florida State was remarkable and had a heck of a season with Jordan Travis. He brought in Keon Coleman and put together a clinic in the ACC against familiar Notre Dame opponents. An interesting statistic: FSU gave up 48 sacks in 2019, exactly one year before Atkins arrived in Tallahassee. Now, FSU has only given up a whopping 44 sacks the last two seasons combined! With Notre Dame's talent at the offensive line position and Riley Leonard's mobility, that number could shrink even further. Although the offensive ranks may not be there, the Noles put up some very good numbers this past season. Those numbers being 3,373 total passing yards, averaging 259 passing yards per game, along with 2,039 rushing yards, averaging 156 rushing yards per game with 32 rushing touchdowns to boot. As far as total offense goes, the Seminoles averaged 416 yards a game, racking up over 5,400 total yards across all 13 games this season.

Kevin Johns - Duke OC/QB Coach

One of the more realistic names here would be Kevin Johns. Anytime you get a transfer QB like Riley Leonard, you want them as comfortable as possible. Why not make him even more comfortable by giving him his former coach? What Leonard and Johns have done together is truly something. Also being rumored is that new Head Coach at Duke, Manny Diaz, is set to hire Jonathan Brewer from SMU as the school's new OC. So where does that bring Johns? Possibly to Notre Dame, maybe the more logical safe option, who knows. Running Back's Coach for the Irish, Deland  McCullough, has a past relationship with Johns. Johns and McCollugh actually coached together in Bloomington in Indiana when Kevin Johns was the co-offensive coordinator, Quarterbacks Coach, and Wide Receivers Coach.

Mike Denbrock - LSU OC

Well, well, well. Some of you may know this guy by now I'm sure. Mr. Denbrock finds himself in a circulating rumor mill, yet again to reunite with Notre Dame. Denbrock has amazing history with the Irish, and also has a history with new WR Coach Mike Brown, QB Coach Gino Guidugli, and Head Coach Marcus Freeman - All who coached at Cincinnati. Very interesting stuff, as you almost hope that Notre Dame offers Denbrock the job. All the way back in 2002, Denbrock left Stanford with Ty Willingham for Notre Dame to become the OT/TE Coach. In 2010, he left Indiana State to become partners with Brian Kelly at Notre Dame as the TE Coach, and finally again in 2017, left Notre Dame for Cincinnati to become the OC/QB Coach in the Queen City. As far as this past season goes, Denbrock was found to be pretty successful, like Grubb and Shephard. Denbrock also had a Heisman Finalist at QB who ended up winning it, and a very talented WR core. The Tigers finished 1st in total offense, 4th in Passing Offense, 1st in Scoring Offense, 7th in Rushing Offense, and another impressive number here - Top 20 in red zone scoring. People may not want Denbrock back after all he's done coming back and forth, but hate him or not, he can recruit and develop like a machine and his numbers prove that.

In Summary - In House Candidates?

There are plenty of names being tossed around, these are the main ones that stood out to me that I personally would not mind leading the Irish. Other names such as Kirby Moore out of Missouri, Kliff Kingsbury from arch rival USC, and former Notre Dame-linked names like Utah OC Andy Ludwig could emerge. On staff, QB Coach Gino Guidugli or OL Coach Joe Rudolph could become more likely than some of the coaches listed above. Nothing is ever final until it's final, but these are coaches I certainly wouldn't be upset seeing in the pressbox for Notre Dame in the 2024 season. Time will tell.


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