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BYU adds former Utah coach Sione Po'uha as defensive assistant

Sione Po'uha coaches during a practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019. Po'uha was hired as a defensive assistant at BYU on Tuesday.

Sione Po'uha coaches during a practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019. Po'uha was hired as a defensive assistant at BYU on Tuesday. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)


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PROVO β€” Jay Hill's staff of defensive assistants continues to take shape at BYU.

The Cougars announced the hiring of former Utah defensive line coach Sione Po'uha late Tuesday night, making the former All-Mountain West first-team selection and Fiesta Bowl champion the third defensive assistant coach on staff and second one hired under the new assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.

Po'uha, who had been out of coaching for a year, joins special teams coordinator Kelly Poppinga and cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford, who was retained from the previous defensive staff.

"It's a great day for my family and me," Po'uha said in a statement. "We have been graciously welcomed and instantly feel the love, passion and excitement of BYU β€” the university, the football program and the family. We would like to thank the administration, Kalani Sitake and Jay Hill for this opportunity. I'm extremely excited to be here and can't wait to get working."

A 2016 graduate of the University of Utah, Po'uha is back in coaching after announcing his retirement on Jan. 11, 2022. He reunites with fellow former Utah assistants Hill and head coach Kalani Sitake at BYU, following an eight-year NFL career and previous coaching stops on the Hill and at Navy.

"Sione is a great coach who really understands the game up front as a longtime NFL defensive tackle and a defensive line coach at Navy and Utah," Sitake said. "He is a great technician and teacher, and he really knows how to work with people as a life coach and a leader in the community. I'm excited to work with Sione and welcome him to BYU."

The Salt Lake City native coached defensive tackles at Utah from 2018-21 and served in the same capacity at Navy for the 2018 season. He was also Utah's director of football player development under Kyle Whittingham in 2017 before joining Ken Niumatalolo's staff at Navy. Po'uha previously worked two years as a Utah student-assistant coach in 2015-16 while completing his undergraduate degree after finishing his NFL career.

"Sione was a phenomenal player and is an outstanding coach," Hill said in a statement. "His reputation precedes him, both in how he coaches his players and in how he recruits. I'm super excited about Sione joining our staff and the difference he will make for us on and off the field."

Po'uha's development tree includes NFL linemen Leki Fotu and John Penisini, among others. He also spent eight seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets before retiring in 2012.

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for KSL.com since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and anything else his editors assign him to do.

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