Wayne grad Marcus Freeman officially named new head coach of Notre Dame football

Marcus Freeman is the new football coach at Notre Dame.

The university announced Friday morning the Wayne High School graduate’s hiring was official two days after numerous reports indicated it was imminent.

“It is an honor to be named the head coach of Notre Dame Football,” Freeman said in a school release. “I am eternally grateful to both (university president) Father John Jenkins and (director of athletics) Jack Swarbrick for giving me the opportunity to lead the exceptional men who make this program what it is. Notre Dame is a very special place and I look forward to pursuing a national championship with the most outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff in college football.”

Freeman, 35, was a highly-rated recruit at Wayne who signed with Ohio State in 2004. He played linebacker for the Buckeyes for five years and helped the Buckeyes to a pair of BCS National Championship Game appearances, four Big Ten titles and five wins over Michigan.

He was drafted by the Bears, but his playing career was cut short by a health issue.

Freeman returned to Ohio State to obtain a master’s and was a graduate assistant for Jim Tressel before spending two seasons at Kent State and four at Purdue.

His star continued to rise when he joined Luke Fickell, his position coach at Ohio State, at Cincinnati in 2016.

Freeman, who is regarded as an ace recruiter, constructed highly effective defenses for the Bearcats and was hired by Notre Dame a year ago as defensive coordinator.

“Marcus’ ability to connect with people, his fit at Notre Dame and the way he coaches young men set him apart as we went through our search process,” Swarbrick said. “I can’t wait to see how the culture created by these remarkable student-athletes continues to grow under the tutelage of Marcus and his staff.”

Freeman replaces Brian Kelly, who left Notre Dame after 12 seasons to take the head coaching position at LSU.

Freeman will be introduced formally at a press conference Monday afternoon in South Bend and coach the Fighting Irish in their bowl game.

“Marcus Freeman has not only proven himself a superb football coach, he has shown both in his time at Notre Dame and in my conversations with him this week that he is a person of highest integrity who cares deeply about our student-athletes and is committed to their success in the classroom as well as on the field,” Jenkins said. “I am excited to welcome him as our new head football coach, and to have his wife, Joanna, and their six beautiful children in the Notre Dame family.”

Freeman’s first regular season game as head coach will be in familiar territory: Ohio Stadium.

The Fighting Irish are set to play a two-year two-game, home-and-home series against Ohio State starting Sept. 3, 2022.

Freeman’s hiring is good news his last employer. Fickell has the Bearcats in position to make the College Football Playoff with a win in the AAC Championship Game, and he has been a frequent target of powerhouse programs for his work as the head coach at UC. Fickell is reportedly lessthaneager to leave the Midwest, so Notre Dame and Ohio State have commonly been viewed as the jobs most likely to lure Fickell away from the Bearcats, who are set to join the Big 12 in the near future.

Freeman’s first Notre Dame coaching staff has not been completed, but it could include at least two more locals: Wayne alum Mike Mickens is the cornerbacks coach for the Fighting Irish while Trotwood-Madison grad Mike McCray II is a graduate assistant.

Ohio State has a history of players who became successful college coaches, including College Football Hall of Famers Sid Gillman, Ernie Godfrey, Earle Bruce and Rudy Hubbard.

Godfrey also coached at Wittenberg.

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