Sione Po’uha, who both played and coached on the defensive side of the ball at the University of Utah, is joining BYU’s coaching staff.

The school made the announcement Thursday night; he will join the Cougars as a defensive assistant, a press release said, without specifying any positional assignment, which “will be announced later once the entire staff is finalized.”

“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,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement. 

“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.”

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He is the latest defensive assistant to join new defensive coordinator Jay Hill’s group, along with Kelly Poppinga.

Hill, a former University of Utah assistant himself and most recently Weber State’s head coach, was hired after Ilaisa Tuiaki resigned as BYU’s defensive coordinator after seven seasons.

Po’uha, a Salt Lake City native, played defensive tackle for the Utes from 2001-2004, earning All-Mountain West Conference honors, and followed that with an eight-year NFL career before getting into coaching.

He coached the defensive tackles at Utah from 2019-2021 and announced last January he was retiring from coaching.

Prior to that, he coached defensive tackles at Navy during the 2018 season and was on Utah’s staff from 2015-2017, the first two years as a student-assistant coach and the final year as the director of football player development.

“Sione was a phenomenal player and is an outstanding coach,” Hill, who also serves as BYU’s associate head coach, 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.”

During his time at Utah, Po’uha helped develop defensive tackles Leki Fotu and John Penisini — both of whom have played in the NFL — and Junior Tafuna, a sophomore standout on this year’s team, among others.

“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 — 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. Go Cougars!”