The first hire of the Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame will arrive on a well-worn path from Cincinnati to South Bend. Bearcats special teams coordinator Brian Mason will join Notre Dame’s staff in the same role, sources confirmed to The Athletic on Wednesday morning, after five seasons at Cincinnati, including one as recruiting director.

Mason, an Indiana native, has spent the past four years coaching special teams for the Bearcats, overlapping with Freeman before his own move to Notre Dame. Mason also worked with Freeman at Purdue and Kent State while serving as a graduate assistant.

The Irish still have three staff openings: offensive line, wide receivers and defensive coordinator. Barring a last-minute snag in negotiations, Harry Hiestand is expected to return to Notre Dame as offensive line coach, with former Irish offensive guard Chris Watt serving in a support role. The receiver and defensive coordinator positions are murkier, although a source told The Athletic that offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will drive the receivers coach hire while Freeman will handle the defensive coordinator role.