Matt Nagy's first coaching hire as head coach of the Bears is an awfully impressive one.
A source confirmed Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is expected to be hired as the Bears' offensive line coach, a position he held under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. The Bears officially announced the addition of Hiestand to Nagy's coaching staff Wednesday evening.
Hiestand was hired as Notre Dame's offensive line coach in 2012 and has been instrumental in the development of a number of highly-drafted players, including Zack Martin (Dallas Cowboys) and Ronnie Stanley (Baltimore Ravens).
The timing of Hiestand leaving Notre Dame for the Bears makes sense, given the Irish will lose top guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Mike McGlinchey to the NFL Draft this year. Nelson is an elite talent and may be a top-10 pick; McGlinchey could also wind up being taken in the first round, too.
And those guys swore by Hiestand, to the point that Zack Martin played a fifth year at Notre Dame partly because he wanted to continue learning from Hiestand.
"He’s definitely a guy that tries to relate to you as a person and tries to understand you," Stanley said prior to the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. "He’s really good at doing that. Even when you don’t tell him anything about your life he understands you. He’s been there before, he’s coached a lot of players and he’s just one of those guys you want to build a relationship with, and you know he’s good people."
"He cares about us in the room," vouched Nick Martin, Zack's brother and a second-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2016, a few years ago. "There’s no doubt about that. I think that’s what you realize quick, yeah, he’ll get after you, but he wants the best from you to not only be the best football player you can be but also be the best person you can be. He demonstrates that and shares life lessons and really makes you a better person off the field as well as on the field, which really shows how much he cares about us as people."
Coaching NFL players is obviously different than college guys, but Hiestand was well-respected during his years in Chicago as well. When Brian Kelly went out looking for an offensive line coach after the 2011 season, Hiestand was at the top of his list.
"Everything about the offensive line that Harry has had, those guys play hard," Kelly said in 2014. "Really hard. And so I'm always looking for coaches that their kids play really hard for. And that was the thing that I kept hearing about Harry. And I wanted an offensive line coach where those kids really, really hard good, strong relationships with him, and played really hard for."
And now, next up for Hiestand will be getting Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Charles Leno and that group to play "really hard" for him. Given his rep, it's fair to expect they will.