They literally are the faceless members of the Notre Dame football coach staff (at least until pictures are added to their bios at Und.com). But graduate assistants Pat Welsh and Josh Reardon do more than brew coffee. The two boast solid resumes after working on college football’s lower tiers and jumped at the opportunity to join Notre Dame as bottom-rung members of head coach Brian Kelly’s staff for the 2012 campaign.
Each has familiarity with current members of Kelly’s workforce, including Kelly himself, which was important when filling the two positions this past offseason.
“Josh played for me at Central Michigan and Welsh coached for Chuck [Martin] at Grand Valley State,” Kelly said. “All of our GAs have a connection with the coaching staff, and I think that’s important today when you’re talking about building that camaraderie within the ranks.”
Pat Welsh, Grand Valley State (class of 2010), offense
Welsh, with a degree in physical education and an emphasis in sports leadership, arrived in South Bend via stints at Wittenberg University in Ohio last year and with Grand Valley State's (Michigan) football team from 2008-10 under then head coach and current Fighting Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin.
Serving as quarterbacks coach last fall for the Tigers, Welsh, who hails from Whitehall, Mich., helped guide Ben Zoeller to a North Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year award. Wittenberg (Division III) finished 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the NCAC. Zoeller threw for 2,651 yards (265.1 average). Welsh worked under head coach Joe Fincham, who owls a 134-30 record at Wittenberg.
In 2010 Welsh was a defensive assistant for the Lakers. That year GVSU held opponents to 19.2 points per game en route to an 11-2 record. He primarily instructed defensive backs and coordinated video.
Josh Reardon, Central Michigan (class of 2006), defense
Reardon, whose primary focus in his first year at Notre Dame is with the defensive line, left his hometown of Sturgis, Mich., and walked on as a linebacker at Central Michigan University in 2001. His services on the second line weren’t needed, but he eventually earned a scholarship as a long-snapper. He earned a degree in physical education and stayed on with the Chippewas after graduating in 2004 as a student assistant working directly with co-defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who holds the same position currently at Notre Dame.
Diaco turned around a CMU rushing defense that just two years earlier had ranked last in the Mid-American Conference. Under Diaco's watch, Central Michigan led the MAC, allowing only 113.7 rushing yards per contest.
Reardon was promoted to graduate assistant in 2006, Kelly’s third and final season at the helm at Central Michigan before taking the head job at Cincinnati. Reardon assisted with coaching the defensive line and inside linebackers. He toiled alongside linebackers coach Mike Elston, who now works with the Irish defensive line.
CMU went 10-4 in 2006, finishing the year with a victory over Middle Tennessee State in the Motor City Bowl. Reardon stayed in Mount Pleasant, Mich., through the 2007 season before coaching the defensive line in 2008, the secondary in 2009 and serving as defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 2010 at Football Championship Subdivision Sacred Heart in Connecticut.
In 2011, Reardon was outside linebackers coach at FCS Holy Cross and the defense held opponents to only 3.9 yards per carry last season.