Notre Dame promoted a defensive analyst to safeties coach, but perhaps not the one many assumed the Irish would default to. Rather than veteran coach Kerry Cooks, Brian Kelly and new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman have reportedly tapped graduate assistant/defensive analyst Chris O’Leary.

Irish Sports Daily’s Matt Freeman first reported the hire. O’Leary replaces Terry Joseph after he joined the coaching staff at Texas.

O’Leary knows Notre Dame’s roster, having been on staff as a defensive graduate assistant for the last three seasons. He spent 2020 focusing his efforts on the Irish outside linebackers, of note given Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s rise to unanimous first-team All-America status and certain first-round pick-to-be.

Just as applicable, O’Leary went on the road recruiting for Notre Dame a little more than a year ago while the Irish searched for Todd Lyght’s replacement, eventually Mike Mickens. Aside from first-team All-American rising junior Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame has struggled in safety evaluations in recruiting, suggesting that aspect of the job was a priority in this decision.