Autry Denson, Notre Dame's all-time career rushing leader, has been hired as the Arizona Cardinals' new running backs coach. Denson spent the last 12 years as a college coach that included the last four as the head coach of Charleston Southern.
A Florida native, Denson broke into coaching at Florida's Pope John Paul II High School in 2010. He served as a running backs coach for three different schools from 2011-18. He had recently been named the athletics director at Northwood Academy in Summerville, SC.
Denson enjoyed a successful playing career that was highlighted by his time in South Bend from 1995-98. Denson ran for at least 1,100 yards in three consecutive seasons at Notre Dame. As a senior, Denson ran for 15 touchdowns while helping the Irish finish 22nd in the Final AP Poll. He capped off his college career with 130 yards and three touchdowns in the Irish's Gator Bowl matchup against Georgia Tech.
Denson's 4,318 yards remains the highest career total in Irish history. Denson is second to Allen Pinkett in Notre Dame career touchdown runs (43), total touchdowns (46) and total scrimmage yards (4,750).
Though he was drafted by the Buccaneers in the seventh-round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Denson never played a regular season snap for Tampa in his four-year NFL career. He spent two seasons with the Dolphins and one season apiece with the Bears and Colts.
Denson called the chance to coach in Arizona "an awesome opportunity." With the Cardinals, Denson will get the chance to work with two-time Pro Bowl running James Conner, a versatile player who has averaged 41 yards catches per year since 2018. A touchdown magnet, Conner found the end zone 26 times during his first two seasons in Arizona.
The Cardinals will likely add to their backfield this offseason. Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott and Joe Mixon are among the list of notable running backs who may be available at or before the start of the league's new year.