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BYU football adds Preston Hadley as safeties coach, announces departure of longtime assistant Steve Kaufusi

PROVO — It has been anticipated for weeks that the BYU football program would be hiring a 10th assistant coach this month, like other programs around the country.

While that still hasn’t happened, coach Kalani Sitake announced Friday the hiring of former Cougar defensive back Preston Hadley as a safeties coach, while longtime defensive coach Steve Kaufusi has stepped down “to pursue other interests."

As part of the changes on the defensive coaching staff, assistant head coach Ed Lamb will now coach the linebackers after previously coaching safeties. Defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki will continue to coach the defensive line, and Jernaro Gilford remains the cornerbacks coach.

Sitake, a longtime defensive coordinator at Utah and Oregon State before taking the reins of BYU’s program two years ago, will also help coach the defense in 2018.

BYU is still planning to hire an additional offensive coach to complete its staff for the 2018 season.

The Cougars underwent an overhaul of the offensive staff last month, including the hiring of Jeff Grimes as offensive coordinator.

Now the defense is getting a bit of a makeover with the hiring of Hadley.

All these changes in the coaching staff is no surprise considering BYU is coming off a dismal 4-9 campaign. The Cougars failed to play in a bowl game for the first time since 2004.

Sitake is hoping that the hiring of Hadley will bolster the BYU defense.

“Preston is a leader and a coach who understands and knows how to teach the fundamentals and techniques of the game,” Sitake said in a released statement. “He is a young, up-and-coming coach in this business who brings experience overseeing the entire secondary and as a recruiting coordinator. He will fit in perfectly with Jernaro in our defensive backfield and we are excited to welcome him back home to BYU.”

The past two years Hadley, 29, served as the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at Weber State.

“I’m honored to return home to represent BYU and looking forward to working alongside the great coaches on the staff,” Hadley said. “I am very thankful to coach Jay Hill for teaching me how to be a football coach, and to coach Sitake, coach Tuiaki, and the BYU administration for the opportunity to serve at my alma mater and help provide the BYU experience to the student-athletes.”

Hadley was part of a coaching staff that helped the Wildcats win a Big Sky Conference championship last season. Weber State led the Big Sky in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and red zone defense.

With the Wildcats, Hadley coached cornerback Taron Johnson, the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team Associated Press FCS All-America in 2017. Johnson will participate in the upcoming NFL Draft Combine.

Cornerback Xequille Harry and safety Jordan Preator, who both earned second-team all-conference honors, were also coached by Hadley.

Hadley played at BYU in 2011 and 2012 before serving as a graduate assistant at BYU in 2013 and 2014. He moved on to Santa Ana College in 2015 before being hired by Weber State.

Hadley is the second coach from the Wildcats' staff hired by BYU. Offensive coordinator Fesi Sitake joined the Cougar offensive staff last month.

Kaufusi, who played for BYU in the mid-1980s, joined the Cougar coaching staff in 2002. He coached the defensive line for 15 seasons before overseeing the linebackers last year.

Kaufusi was the lone holdover on BYU's staff after coach Bronco Mendenhall left BYU following the 2015 season to take the job at Virginia.

In November, Kaufusi’s wife, Michelle, was elected the first female mayor of Provo.

“I’m really proud of my wife,” Kaufusi told the Deseret News recently. “I’ve always told her, ‘You do your thing and I’ll do mine.’ She’s really involved in the community. She’s at a point where she’s ready to do this. A lot of people trust her. I’m grateful it turned out that way for her.”

Sitake expressed his appreciation for Kaufusi’s contributions to BYU football.

“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the university and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”

Kaufusi’s son, Corbin, is a senior defensive lineman and another son, Devin is entering his freshman season. Bronson Kaufusi, who starred at BYU, plays for the Baltimore Ravens.