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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, January 04, 2018 5:50 pm

Notre Dame DC Elko joining Fisher at Texas A&M

RALPH D. RUSSO | Associated Press


Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says Fighting Irish defensive coordinator Mike Elko is leaving for Texas A&M, where he will lead coach Jimbo Fisher's defense.

Kelly posted on Twitter that Elko had accepted an offer to be the Aggies' defensive coordinator. Elko was at Notre Dame for one season and the Fighting Irish defense took a big step forward, from 5.40 yards per play allowed (45th in the nation) to 5.05 (25th). He spent the previous three seasons at Wake Forest.

Texas A&M tried to hire Dave Aranda away from LSU, but he chose to stay with the Tigers and signed a four-year deal worth $10 million . Aranda is the first FBS assistant to make more than $2 million per year.

Elko spent three seasons at Wake Forest before being hired by Kelly as part of a major overhaul to Notre Dame's staff. The Irish went 4-8 last season, but rebounded to 10-3 this year, including a 21-17 victory against LSU in the Citrus Bowl.

At Wake Forest, Elko's defenses ranked in the top 40 nationally in yards per play twice, even while playing with offenses that provided little support.

The New Jersey native played at Penn and won an Ivy League championship in 1998. He started his coaching at his alma mater and did stints at FCS schools Fordham, Richmond and Hofstra before becoming defensive coordinator at Bowling Green for Dave Clawson in 2009. He had previously worked for Clawson at Fordham and then followed the head coach to Wake Forest. With the Demon Deacons, Elko developed attacking defenses that created negative plays without a lot of highly recruited players.

At Texas A&M, he joins Fisher, who took over the Aggies last month on a 10-year, $75 million deal.