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Utah Utes football: Sitake to replace outgoing Andersen for Utes

SHARE Utah Utes football: Sitake to replace outgoing Andersen for Utes
Kalani Sitake speaks to players and fans gathered for the Sugar Bowl announcement Sunday.

Kalani Sitake speaks to players and fans gathered for the Sugar Bowl announcement Sunday.

Jason Olson, Deseret News

It didn't take Utah coach Kyle Whittingham long to find a new defensive coordinator.

He didn't have to look far.

Just days after Gary Andersen accepted the head coaching job at Utah State, Whittingham promoted inside linebackers coach Kalani Sitake to the post.

"I believe it's the right decision," Whittingham said after making the announcement at Utah's BCS Selection Show gathering Sunday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "Kalani will do a great job for us."

Sitake's appointment is immediate, meaning Andersen will coach Utah's defensive line in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama while juggling his new duties at USU.

Whittingham said the Utes will hire a new defensive line coach soon, but he will not be involved in bowl preparations.

"We're going to do the same defense," said Sitake, who was offered the coordinator position on Friday after returning from a recruiting trip to Hawaii and Los Angeles.

Sitake praised Andersen and Whittingham for helping him prepare for his new responsibilities. He considers them both as mentors.

"It's a good position to be in," Sitake said of his new job. "But at the same time there's a lot of expectations."

Players on Utah's defense were thrilled about the move and believe Sitake is ready for the challenge.

"I feel great. He's my position coach. We've been talking to him forever." said linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. "So for him to get a promotion like that, I'm very happy for him."

Teammate Mike Wright was pleased as well.

"You couldn't have picked a better coach for the job. I think he's very deserving and I think all the players feel the same way,"

said the junior linebacker. "He's a great football coach. He's going to step in great and so I'm very happy for him. I don't think Coach Whit could have picked a better guy for the job."

Sitake joined the Utah coaching staff in 2005 after a two-year stint at Southern Utah. He was a BYU graduate assistant in 2002 after getting his first job as a coach at Eastern Arizona, where he oversaw the defensive backs and special teams.

As a player, Sitake was a four-year starter at fullback for BYU.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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