When Matt Wells bolted from Utah State to go to Texas Tech, it’s not big surprise that Gary Andersen found himself back in Logan as the headman at USU. Andersen was an associate head coach for the Utes this past season, and I think a very big key for Coach Whitt and the staff. Him going back to Logan makes a ton of sense, since it’s the program that he rebuilt almost 10 years ago, before going to Wisconsin and Oregon State. I love Coach A and wish him the best of luck up there, and I’ll be rooting for him like crazy.
That left one opening on the Utah staff, and the Utes welcomed home former defensive lineman on the Fiesta Bowl team, and NFL vet Sione Po’uha. Po’uha coached at Navy this past year, and will be taking the role of defensive tackles coach. He was also a student assistant back in 2015-16.
Here’s the official release from the U on this:
SALT LAKE CITY—Former Ute and NFL defensive tackle Sione Po’uha (pronounced see-oh-nee bo-oo-ha) is returning to his alma mater as a defensive line coach, head coach Kyle Whittingham announced today. Po’uha will coach the Ute defensive tackles, the same position he held this season at Navy.
“It’s great to have Sione back in our program,” said Whittingham. “In his playing days he was an outstanding defensive tackle here at Utah and had a lengthy and successful NFL career as well. We are also excited about the impact he will have in our recruiting.”
Po’uha served two years as a Utah student-assistant coach in 2015-16 while completing his undergraduate degree. He was Utah’s director of football player development in 2017 before leaving for a full-time coaching position with Navy.
“I am so appreciative of Coach Whittingham for giving me the opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater,” said Po’uha. “It was a dream of mine and I am excited about working with the players and coaches here.”
A first-team all-Mountain West defensive lineman for Utah’s undefeated Fiesta Bowl champion team in 2004, Po’uha earned four letters. The Salt Lake City native was selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft by the New York Jets and played in 106 games with 55 starts from 2005-12, accumulating 263 career tackles.
I think this is a win-win-win for all parties, from Coach A going back to Logan, to Sione coming home to the U, and for the Utes to pick up a young, up and coming coach. I think a guy like Po’uha could be a big addition on the recruiting front, especially in the Polynesian community and his NFL background.