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BYU assistants Kaufusi, Tuiaki trading places

Published March 8, 2017 4:10 pm

BYU football notes • Kaufusi is looking forward to the switch — though he'll miss coaching his son.
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Provo • For the past 23 seasons, BYU's Steve Kaufusi has been a defensive line coach, the first eight with the University of Utah and the past 15 with the Cougars.

But he didn't hesitate in January when head coach Kalani Sitake and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki asked him to trade places with Tuiaki and start coaching the linebackers for the first time in his career. Tuiaki will remain the coordinator and work with the defensive line, Kaufusi's old position.

"For me, it is a good move," Kaufusi said. "Professionally, the more I know, the better I am going to be and the more options I will have. … I am excited about coaching another position and learning another position."

Having gotten acclimated to being a head coach last year, Sitake wants more hands-on involvement with the team in his second season, and said Wednesday he will mostly help Kaufusi with the linebackers.

"I think it is good for me to help out a little bit where ever I can," Sitake said. "I am not taking a primary role. I am just being more supportive with technique and fundamentals and stuff I can see. … Those guys are very capable. Coach Kaufusi is capable as a linebackers coach. We spent some time together talking scheme and football, and he's very bright and understands the game."

Kaufusi is the only holdover from Bronco Mendenhall's staff and was the D-line coach all 11 of the years the current Virginia coach was at the helm at BYU.

"I am kind of at the end of my career, but for me I love the game and the sport," Kaufusi said. "The more I know, the better it is for me. So yeah, I am grateful for the move."

Kaufusi said the excitement of a new challenge "overcomes" the hardest part of the switch — not getting to work with his son, Corbin, a defensive end who is currently playing for the basketball team.

"That part of it will be tough, but I am excited about expanding my role," he said.

Tuiaki has coached on both sides of the ball, including running backs at Utah State in 2011, fullbacks and tight ends at Utah in 2012 and defensive line at Utah in 2013-14.

"I was naturally already involved with the D line last year, just because of my past experience," Tuiaki said. "Now we are using a head coach who is a really good coach help with the 'backers, and a really good defensive line coach who has been doing it for years is learning how to coach the linebackers from [Sitake], who could coach anywhere. It should be really good."

Taking it outside

The Cougars had their fifth practice of spring camp Wednesday, but the first one outside as the weather in Provo warmed up considerably.

"Football is meant to be played outside and on this [natural] turf, so we are good," Sitake said.

Added quarterback Tanner Mangum: "Spring ball is fun, especially today. It was a beautiful day out and to come out and be on the field was a good time to play football again. We were excited. There was a lot of energy out here, and the tempo was pretty good today."


Former Utah offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, who was fired by the Utes in late December, attended Wednesday's practice. Roderick and Sitake remain close friends, and Roderick played receiver for BYU from 1996 to 1998 and was a graduate assistant in Provo from 1999 to 2001. … Sophomore linebacker Johnny Tapusoa, who was wearing No. 39 in practice, intercepted Mangum in the media-viewing portion of practice. … Sitake said the linebackers and players who logged significant time last year have stood out one-third of the way through camp.

drew@sltrib.com Twitter: @drewjay —

Steve Kaufusi's coaching resume

1994 • Defensive graduate assistant at University of Utah

1995-96 • Defensive line coach at University of Utah

1997-2001 • Defensive ends coach at University of Utah

2002-2016 • Defensive line coach at BYU

2017 • Linebackers coach at BYU






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