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Mike Elston thrilled to return to Michigan football: 'It's great to be home'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

When Mike Elston first heard from his agent about an assistant coaching opportunity at Michigan, his alma mater, he didn’t have to think things over.

Elston officially was announced Monday as the Wolverines’ new defensive line coach after spending the last 12 years at Notre Dame.

“I don’t want to say the words I used, but it began with an ‘H’ and ended with a ‘yeah,’” Elston said on this week’s “In the Trenches” podcast hosted by Jon Jansen. “Next thing I know, (Michigan head) Coach (Jim) Harbaugh reached out, and that’s it. When I brought it up to my wife, she was just ecstatic. It happened very quickly, and the feeling was mutual.

“They wanted me here, and I wanted to be here.”

He replaces Shaun Nua, who coached Michigan’s defensive line the last three years before departing this month for USC. Elston, 47, played linebacker for the Wolverines from 1993-1996 and was a student assistant with the program in 1997. He was then a video intern with Michigan in 1998 and a graduate assistant (1999-2000) working with outside linebackers.

“I’ve always had my eye on getting back to Ann Arbor,” Elston said on the podcast. “My wife was in the office today, and she looked at me sitting in the office and said, ‘Do you remember dreaming about being here?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s great. It’s great to be home. Everybody I’ve met, the people have been great, and the players have been great. It’s been a really special homecoming.”

Elston has been recruiting since he was hired, and also has spent time getting to know the defensive linemen already at Michigan, some of whom he tried to recruit to Notre Dame. He assured the linemen will play physical and will continue to be aggressive in the pass rush and stout against the run.

He is the fourth former Michigan player on staff, joining Harbaugh, safeties coach Ron Bellamy and running back coach Mike Hart. Elston said having played for the Wolverines is priceless when it comes to recruiting and making a pitch to high school players.

“I can tell a kid why I chose Michigan over Notre Dame and over Ohio State, where when that conversation came up when I was at Notre Dame, ‘Hey Coach, where’d you go to school? Well, I went to Michigan. Oh really, why?’ You’re not shining a great light on the school that you’re currently at.

“Now, I can say with pride and I can let them know exactly why I chose it. It was nothing negative on anybody else or any other school, but I can express the positives of Michigan. I think it’s valuable in recruiting.”

Moving on

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Michigan reserve kicker Cole Hussung on Wednesday entered his name into NCAA transfer portal. This comes shortly after Jake Moody, the Lou Groza winner as the nation’s top kicker, decided to return. Brad Robbins, a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, also recently announced he will return for the Wolverines this fall.

Joining staff

Michigan has added Kirk Campbell, most recently offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Old Dominion the last two seasons, as an offensive analyst. Campbell announced Tuesday on Twitter that he has joined the Michigan staff.

Twitter: @chengelis