Running backs coach shares challenges, goals

Autry Denson, a native of Davie, Florida, is in his second season as the running backs coach here at Notre Dame. Denson played for the Irish from 1995-1998, finishing as Notre Dame’s all-time leading rusher with 4,318 yards and 43 touchdowns, and he was named to the Associated Press All-America Team as a senior in 1998—the last Notre Dame running back to do so. After college, Denson played in the NFL with the Dolphins, Bears, Colts, and Lions, as well as in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes. Before Notre Dame, Denson held coaching positions at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, Florida; Bethune Cookman University, The University of Miami in Ohio, and the University of South Florida. As Denson is my position coach, I can personally testify to his passion for the game and love for his players. Recently, I interviewed him to get his perspective on the season.

Irish Rover: What has it been like being a coach at ND after playing here?

Autry Denson: Getting the opportunity to return to ND as a coach after playing here has been a very humbling experience. I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to not only use the platform of college athletics as a platform for ministry, but to be able to do so at a place that means so much to me. I learned a lot of valuable life lessons on this campus, and I pray I can have the same impact on all those I come in contact with.

What has the biggest challenge been for you as a coach in year two?

The biggest challenge in year two is to make sure I stay true to the things that allowed me as a coach, my position unit, and our team to have success in year one, while at the same time accessing and making the necessary tweaks [or] changes that allow us to continue to grow [and] improve.

What does the team need to do to get the season back on track?

In order to get our season back on track, the team needs to have faith in God’s good and perfect will and then have faith in themselves to carry out His will for their lives. Next, each person needs to recognize how unique they are in regards to their God given talents [and] gifts and then be determined to use those gifts to the best of their ability, which will both honor God and allow them to contribute everything they have to the team for the good of the team. Finally, just be determined to have as much fun as humanly possible playing a game they love with the guys they love.  

What’s your favorite place to recruit?

My favorite state [to recruit in] is Florida because not only [was] I born and raised there [but it also] provides me with additional opportunities to spend time with my extended family members.

Bailey Ross is a senior majoring in neuroscience & behavior and minoring in business economics. His hobbies include playing on the varsity football team, spending time with family and friends, and traveling. Contact Bailey at