The first official addition to new Bears coach Matt Nagy’s staff is a well-respected veteran assistant who’s considered among the best at his craft in the nation.
Harry Hiestand will return to the Bears for a second tour of duty as offensive line coach. Hiestand first served in that capacity for five seasons from 2005-09 under coach Lovie Smith, helping the Bears win back-to-back NFC North titles and reach Super Bowl XLI in 2006.
During that time, Hiestand played a key role in sending center Olin Kreutz (2005 and 2006) and guard Ruben Brown (2006) to the Pro Bowl. Kreutz was also named first-team All-Pro in 2006, the first Bears offensive lineman to accomplish that feat in 17 years.
“We’ve been working hard on the staff from the moment Matt got in the facility,” general manager Ryan Pace said Wednesday night on the Bears All-Access radio program. “With Harry, it’s a guy that [Nagy] talked about right away in his interview: ‘If we can get this guy, he’s going to make a big difference with our offensive line.’ It’s one of his most important hires.
“I’ve heard a ton of great things about Harry throughout this building and then just going to Notre Dame and watching how their offensive line plays. They’re great technicians, and that’s a credit to Harry and what he does. It’s a really important hire. We couldn’t be happier to have him here and I think he’s going to make a big impact.”
Hiestand has spent the last 29 seasons as an offensive line coach, mainly at the collegiate level, including the last six years at Notre Dame. His other stops have included Cincinnati (1989-93), Missouri (1994-96), Illinois (1997-2004) and Tennessee (2010-11).
At Notre Dame, Hiestand guided an offensive line which produced 190 rushing yards per game during his six seasons in South Bend. Last season his Fighting Irish unit won the Joe Moore Award, which honors the top offensive line in the country.
At Tennessee, Hiestand tutored three true freshmen on a 2010 offensive line that helped Tauren Poole rush for 1,034 yards and an SEC-high six 100-yard games. In 2011, he mentored a Volunteers offensive line that allowed just 18 sacks, second to only Alabama in the SEC.
The Malvern, Pa., native began his coaching career at his alma mater, East Stroudsburg University, after an injury ended his playing career. He played two years at Springfield College before transferring to East Stroudsburg in the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania.
Hiestand earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from East Stroudsburg in 1983. He and his wife, Terri, have three sons, Michael, Matthew and Mark, and one daughter, Sarah.