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Kyle Whittingham hires former Utes great Luther Elliss as next defensive line coach

Luther Elliss gets in a few words after sacking Arizona quarterback Dan White.

Luther Elliss gets in a few words after sacking Arizona quarterback Dan White. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY β€” It didn't take long for Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham to fill his coaching staff vacancies.

Just eight days after Sione Po'uha announced a sudden and unexpected retirement from coaching, Whittingham brought in another former Utes football player to join the coaching ranks in All-American Luther Elliss as the team's defensive tackles coach.

Elliss, also known as "Pass Rushing Luther," is the second coach Whittingham has hired in the offseason, joining former Utes running back Quinton Ganther, who was hired last week to be the team's new running back coach after Kiel McDonald left for the same position at USC. With the hiring of Elliss, Utah's coaching staff is once again complete.

The Mancos, Colorado, native comes to Utah after five seasons at the University of Idaho as the program's defensive line coach, where he most recently coached his team to 2.82 sacks per game, which was ranked 16th nationally in FCS.

Elliss, who was a consensus All-American and WAC Defensive Player of the Year at Utah in 1994, is also the father of current Utes linebacker Jonah Elliss, who made an appearance in all 14 games for the Utes in 2021. The freshman legacy player finished the season with 15 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries.

Elliss played for Utah from 1991-94, including a season on a Rick Majerus led basketball team, before being selected No. 20 overall in the 1995 NFL draft to the Detroit Lions. Elliss played nine seasons in the NFL, with the last year of his career with the Denver Broncos.

In the decade in the pros, Elliss recorded 331 tackles, 29 sacks and seven fumble recovers, and was a Pro Bowl selection in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Elliss, who has 12 children, joined the coaching ranks in 2017 when he accepted a defensive line position at Idaho, where he's been since being hired by Utah.

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer of University of Utah athletics β€” primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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