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How Notre Dame likely moves forward with O'Leary headed to the LA Chargers

Notre Dame safeties coach Chris O'Leary is headed to the NFL for an opportunity with the LA Chargers.
Notre Dame safeties coach Chris O'Leary is headed to the NFL for an opportunity with the LA Chargers. (Jeff Douglas, Inside ND Sports)

Last offseason, Notre Dame safeties coach Chris O’Leary flirted with a jump from the college ranks to the NFL.

This offseason, the NFL took him up on it.

A source has confirmed the Irish assistant football coach is leaving Notre Dame to join the defensive coaching staff of new LA Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh, where he’ll reunite with Chargers defensive coordinator Jesse Minter.

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The two coached together at Georgia State. Former Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston and former two-time ND defensive coordinator Rick Minter, Jesse’s father, left Michigan with Harbaugh for the new opportunity in the NFL. The elder Minter will have an analyst role.

What’s likely to happen at ND, per a source, is that grad assistant Max Bullough, who coached linebackers at ND this past season, will be promoted to a full-time position coaching linebackers.

Also likely cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens, the defensive pass game coordinator, will coach both safeties and cornerbacks.

The source said Notre Dame countered with more money, but that O’Leary really wants an NFL opportunity at this stage of his coaching career.

The Indiana State grad and former wide receiver for the Sycamores worked at Notre Dame for six years, the last three as the safeties coach. He came to ND as a defensive analyst in 2018, and served in that role for two seasons. In 2020, he became a graduate assistant and coached the rover position.

In 2021, then-head coach Brian Kelly promoted O’Leary to full-time safeties coach under new defensive coordinator hire Marcus Freeman. Freeman then succeeded Kelly as head coach after the 2021 regular season and retained O’Leary.

O’Leary’s first coaching job was as a defensive grad assistant in 2015 and 2016 at Georgia State, where he worked under Jesse Minter, the defensive coordinator there at the time. He then coached safeties at Florida Tech in 2017, under defensive coordinator Rick Minter, before coming to ND in 2018.

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