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Mike Elston To Leave Notre Dame For Michigan

Long time Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston is leaving the program for Michigan, his alma mater

Notre Dame's otherwise brilliant offseason under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman saw its first huge bump in the road as Irish Breakdown has learned that long-time defensive line coach Mike Elston is leaving the program for Michigan. This news is also being reported by Wolverine Digest, also a FanNation site and partner with IB.

Elston, of course, played and graduated from Michigan. The opportunity to return to his alma mater after 12 years at Notre Dame was finally too appealing for him, and the timing was right as Notre Dame begins a new era at Notre Dame. Sources say it was a very difficult decision for Elston, who loves Notre Dame and worked very well with Freeman this season, but after 12 seasons and with Elston hoping to eventually move up the ranks, a change of scenery was needed.

Elston has been an incredibly loyal member of the Notre Dame coaching staff for over a decade, coaching the defensive line, linebackers, special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator and associated head coach. His love for his players and the school is well known, including him initially turning down a huge contract offer from former Irish coach Brian Kelly to join him at LSU.

After struggling to produce great fronts for years, Notre Dame's defensive line has become a force under Elston. This has been especially true in recent seasons. Notre Dame's 2018 defensive line, for example, had five players from the rotation ultimately get drafted, including first round pick Jerry Tillery, who was an All-American that season.

For Freeman, he has some very big shoes to fill on and off the field. Elston was a great ambassador for Notre Dame on and off the field, and his players had a great deal of respect for him on and off the field. Elston was also one of Notre Dame's stronger recruiters, including serving as the recruiting coordinator over the last year as the Irish put together a strong 2022 class and are off to an even better start in 2023.

Freeman will have to find someone who can coach at a high level and recruit at a high level if he's going to keep current 2023 commit Keon Keeley - an elite five-star recruit - and Brenan Vernon in the fold.

Of course, Elston left the cupboard stocked with very, very talented players so it makes that position a very attractive one, which should make it a big easier for Freeman to swing for the fences.

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