Former Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington will replace Mike Elston as Notre Dame defensive line coach and defensive run-game coordinator, according to multiple reports.
Washington, 37, who was in his position with Ohio State for three seasons, was let go from the Buckeyes coaching staff following the 2021 campaign because new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will be coaching linebackers in Columbus. Notre Dame opens the 2022 season at Ohio Stadium against the Buckeyes.
"The players the players the players," Washington wrote in a tweet Saturday. "Thankful for all the young men I have been fortunate to be around and work with for the last three years. Forever grateful for your time, energy, effort and most especially the example you have shown my kids. Through the good times and tough times relationships mean everything. Always consider you family. ... Excited for what's next."
Before coaching at Ohio State, Washington, who played defensive tackle at Boston College, was the linebackers coach at Michigan for a season in 2018. Prior to coaching for the Wolverines, he was the defensive line coach at Cincinnati, working under then-Bearcats defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. That connection with the new Irish coach made Washington a natural fit with Notre Dame.
News of Washington's hire comes just days after reports Elston would depart from South Bend after 12 years to be the new defensive line coach for the Wolverines. Freeman reportedly had to fight off a bid from Georgia to hire Washington.
The Columbus, Ohio native was one of the main drivers of Ohio State's recruiting machine in recent years, acting as the primary recruiter on five-star linebacker C.J. Hicks and five-star safety Sonny Styles in the 2022 class alone. Styles, the No. 1 safety in the 2022 class and the 13th-ranked player overall, according to 247sports.com, is the younger brother of Irish receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr., and Washington convinced him to pick the Buckeyes (where Styles' father played) over Notre Dame.
Notre Dame needs a talented recruiter coaching the defensive line. In the 2023 class, two of the most important Irish commitments to date are five-star edge rusher Keon Keeley and four-star defensive end/tackle Brenan Vernon. Washington will likely play a key role in keeping those commitments firm in the wake of Elston's departure.