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Chris Samuels, Deseret News, File

Longtime BYU coach Steve Kaufusi steps down; Weber State's Hadley joins staff

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Jan. 19, 2018 at 2:38 p.m.


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PROVO — BYU’s 10th assistant coach, as provided under new NCAA regulations, is still yet-to-be-determined.

But the Cougar coaching staff received a major makeover Friday afternoon.

Longtime BYU defensive coach Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his position at BYU to pursue other opportunities, head coach Kalani Sitake announced Friday. The former BYU defensive lineman and father of Corbin and Bronson Kaufusi spent 16 years coaching at his alma mater.

His replacement on the defensive staff will be former BYU defensive back Preston Hadley. A two-year assistant coach at nearby Weber State, Hadley will take command of BYU’s safeties, moving assistant head coach Ed Lamb to coach the team’s linebackers.

"Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family," Sitake said in a statement. "I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future."

A former NFL draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, Kaufusi began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Utah in 1994. He was drafted in the 1988 NFL draft, and played three seasons in the NFL, one season in the World League of American Football, and has sent three sons through the BYU football program in current Ravens defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi, current BYU defensive end Corbin Kaufusi, and incoming BYU freshman Devin Kaufusi, who just returned from a two-year mission for the LDS Church.

It’s unlikely the Kaufusi family will move far from Provo, however. Michelle Kaufusi, the matriarch of the clan, was recently elected the mayor of Provo, becoming the first female mayor in the city’s history.

BYU defensive back Preston Hadley (7) celebrates after causing a fumble on a sack that the Cougars recovered against Hawaii in Provo, Sept. 28, 2012. The Cougars scored a few plays later. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
BYU defensive back Preston Hadley (7) celebrates after causing a fumble on a sack that the Cougars recovered against Hawaii in Provo, Sept. 28, 2012. The Cougars scored a few plays later. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

"I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons," Steve Kaufusi said. "I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the university and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU."

Kaufusi spent most of his time coaching at BYU on the defensive line but moved to linebackers coach in a position-group trade with defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki in 2017.

Hadley, 29, has five years of coaching experience, including the past two seasons as defensive backs coach at Weber State. In 2017, he helped mentor the 11-win Wildcats to a No. 6 national ranking in interceptions (18), No. 8 in turnovers (28) and No. 9 in red zone defense (.676).

He played a big role in coaching Wildcat star Taron Johnson from under-recruited cornerback to Big Sky defensive player of the year in 2017 and an NFL draft prospect.

"I’m honored to return home to represent BYU and look forward to working alongside the great coaches on the staff," Hadley said. "I am very thankful to coach Jay Hill for teaching me how to be a football coach, and to coach Sitake, coach Tuiaki, and the BYU administration for the opportunity to serve at my alma mater and help provide the BYU experience to the student-athletes."

A native of Pleasant Grove, Hadley earned a bachelor’s degree from BYU in 2013 and went on to a master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia Irvine in 2016. He served a two-year mission for the church in New York City.

Hadley is the second Weber State assistant coach to make the move to Provo for the 2018 season, joining former offensive coordinator Fesi Sitake, who will coach the Cougar receivers. Sitake, the younger cousin of Kalani Sitake, joined the new offensive staff under coordinator Jeff Grimes that includes passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick and former UT San Antonio offensive line coach Ryan Pugh.

BYU will also hire a 10th assistant coach — one on the offensive staff — in the coming weeks.

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Sean Walker

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