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BYU football adds veteran coach Kevin Clune to defensive staff

FILE: Former Utah State defensive coordinator Kevin Clune watches the Aggies’ scrimmage. Clune was hired by BYU on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, and will coach the team’s linebackers.
In this file photo, former Utah State defensive coordinator Kevin Clune watches an Aggies’ scrimmage. Clune was hired by BYU on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, and will coach the team’s linebackers.
Jeff Hunter, Deseret News

Kalani Sitake’s coaching staff added a veteran with strong ties to the state of Utah, as BYU announced Kevin Clune will coach the Cougars’ linebackers.

Clune has 28 years of coaching experience, and that includes 10 years as a defensive coordinator at places like FBS programs Oregon State, Utah State and Hawaii, as well as in-state FCS teams Weber State and Southern Utah.

“I can’t express how excited I am to join Coach Sitake and the rest of the staff for the 2021 season,” Clune said in a statement. “I am honored by the opportunity to be a part of the BYU tradition and to work with these student-athletes. Coach Sitake has assembled a team of tremendous young men, and I look forward to helping build on last year’s success as we move forward to next season.”

Clune volunteered as a defensive analyst at BYU this past season, when the Cougars ranked in the top 25 national in seven different categories, including No. 4 in scoring defense (15.3) and No. 10 in total defense (317.4). BYU went 11-1 and finished the year ranked No. 11 in the country.

Clune joins a Cougar defense staff that includes defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki coaching the interior linemen, Ed Lamb the safeties, Preston Hadley the defensive ends/hybrids and Jernaro Gilford the cornerbacks.

Prior to last season, Clune served as linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant at Memphis from 2018-19, and was Oregon State’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2016-17.

Clune has 15 years of experience coaching in the state of Utah. The most prominent was his six years at Utah State, when he served as the program’s linebackers coach from 2009-13, left to become Hawaii’s defensive coordinator in 2014, then returned to Logan as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2015.

During his time in Logan, Clune coached future NFL linebackers Bobby Wagner, Nick Vigil, Zach Vigil and Kyle Fackrell. Wagner is a six-time first-team All-Pro, a Super Bowl champ and arguably the game’s best middle linebacker. Nick Vigil and Fackrell are also still in the league, with the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants, respectively, while Zach Vigil was also in the pros for multiple seasons.

Clune also was the defensive coordinator at Weber State (2005-08) and Southern Utah (2003-04), and spent two years at Utah as a graduate assistant coach.

“I have known Kevin my entire coaching career. He is a great person and an outstanding coach with a ton of experience, both as a position coach and as a coordinator,” Sitake said in a statement. “With his experience and expertise, Kevin is great addition to our defensive room working with Coach Tuiaki, Coach Lamb and our defensive staff as we build on our past successes.”

There has been a bit of shuffling on the BYU coaching staff this offseason, and prior to Thursday, it was all on the offensive side. Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes left for Baylor and was eventually joined by offensive line coach Eric Mateos, while quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick was elevated to offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake to passing game coordinator.