SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brian VanGorder brings an impressive resume to Notre Dame: Five years as a defensive coordinator in the SEC, six years in the NFL and four as a coordinator for a perennial playoff team.
Notre Dame is VanGorder's next stop, with the Irish introducing its new defensive coordinator in a press conference Tuesday at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. There's not a whole lot to talk about beyond that, as VanGorder is still early in the evaluative process of the talent he has to work with.
VanGorder is still figuring out the defensive philosophy he'll impart on the Irish and is just now beginning to learn the names of his players. But he was able to say one thing would be central to his defense.
"I'm built to stop the run," VanGorder said. "Most of the time our defenses have been very solid against the run. ... That part of it for me is all about your toughness — when a team can run the ball on you in your game, there's something about the toughness factor that affects me and I feel about it."
Among VanGorder's other defensive goals: Limit big-chunk passing plays and bring pressure, though the latter goal is contingent on personnel.
VanGorder has plenty of experience as a highly visible defensive coordinator, spending four years in that position at Georgia (2001-2004) and another four years with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons (2008-2011). Most recently, VanGorder coached linebackers for the New York Jets.
But he also has experience at football's lower rungs, including stints at the high school and D-II levels. That includes three years spent with Kelly at Grand Valley State over two decades ago, but that initial meeting created a chemistry that both coaches expect to be rekindled in South Bend.
And that meeting, and subsequent knowledge of VanGorder's career trajectory, left an impression on Kelly.
"Brian is one of the very best teachers, if not the best teacher, I've ever been around," Kelly said.