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McBride will shift coaching assignments

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A new wide-receivers coach is on Ron McBride's shopping list today, but he probably won't do any serious looking until the recruiting season ends early next month.

With defensive-ends coach Steve Kaufusi officially defecting to BYU on Friday, McBride said it "enables us to balance our staff out."

Gary Andersen, the assistant head coach and special teams coach, will now run the entire defensive line instead of just the interior, and hiring a new receivers coach will allow defensive coordinator Craig Ver Steeg to concentrate on quarterbacks. Graduate assistants Jay Hill and Kevin Clune will be switched to defensive duties.

"I've got a list," McBride said about replacements, but that can wait. "It's critical," he said, and he wants to devote strong attention to the matter.

Kaufusi's departure is not good news but is taken in stride. "Steve was a wonderful contributor. He was an integral part in recruiting," McBride said, noting it's an opportunity for Kaufusi to coach the whole defensive line.

BYU wanted him also to recruit Pacific Islanders. Losing his recruiting "doesn't help," McBride said, but Utah is established in the islands, and with Hawaii improving rapidly and Pac-10 and Big 12 teams starting to recruit there, it will be harder for both Utah schools anyway.

Kaufusi said Friday his younger brother Jason, an all-conference sophomore defensive end, will stay at Utah. McBride thinks he will, too. The Mountain West Conference rule that adds a second year of inactivity for players who transfer from one member school to another would be a deterrent, especially since Jason has already served an LDS mission and will be 23 next month, with a possible NFL career in the offing.

It is McBride's opinion that defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham also plans to stay at Utah, and the school will do all it can to keep him. He had been rumored to be on BYU's list and will surely get other offers. Whittingham's defense was ranked among the nation's top 10 and was the big reason Utah beat Southern Cal 10-6 in the Las Vegas Bowl. It simply overwhelmed the Trojans.

"He plans to stay here," McBride said, adding, "We want to make sure it's right for him to stay here." That means finding more money for him. "That's the way you show appreciation for what a guy's done for you. He deserves to be in the top of the league (in salary). We're going to do as good as we can for him."

RECRUITING: Junior-college placekicker Ford Hall of Coffeyville, Kan., a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, has apparently given Utah a verbal commitment. He was first-team All-Jayhawk Conference and has kicked a 50-yarder. He was also looking at Wisconsin and North Texas. Utah also reportedly has a verbal commitment from Washington, D.C., receiver Steven Savoy. Savoy, 6-1, 175, transferred to Washington's Dunbar High as a senior from Archbishop Carroll High, where he was a quarterback.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com