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A Coach’s Journey: BYU Defensive Coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki

Sep 14, 2022, 9:57 AM | Updated: 10:13 am

Ilaisa Tuiaki - BYU Football...

BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki speaks to the Cougar Club on National Signing Day. (BYU Photo Courtesy)

(BYU Photo Courtesy)

SALT LAKE CITY – BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki’s favorite thing about his job is watching his players grow. He talked about the best and worst parts of coaching with KSL Sports Zone host Hans Olsen.

Tuiaki started to love football when his family moved to the United States from Tonga when he was ten years old. He credits Tecmo Bowl on the Gameboy and learning players from trading cards for igniting his fire.

“And then I started playing football. I just loved it. I love the game and I love learning about players,” Tuiaki said.

Ilaisa Tuiaki’s Journey To BYU

Tuiaki’s first coaching job was at Kearns High School where he was both a teacher and a coach. He then joined Utah as a graduate assistant for the 2008 season.

After the Sugar Bowl victory, Gary Andersen went to Utah State and took Tuiaki with him. Then it was back to Utah from 2012 to 2014 to start “Sack Lake City” as the defensive line coach before a one-year stint at Oregon State. And then finally, Tuiaki landed at BYU in 2016.

“The first few years at Utah State were really rough … anytime you are losing it’s tough,” Tuiaki told Olsen about the toughest years of his career.

“If you don’t have deep convictions about the way that things are supposed to go … you can be strayed. I think you see a lot of new coaches never get over that hump,” Tuiaki explained.

BYU’s defensive coordinator still has dreams of being a head coach but told Hans it would be hard to leave “the best coach in the world” (Kalani Sitake) and a program about to go Power Five.

“It has to be the right moment. I am not going to go dive into something that is not right … and leave something this good,” he said.

A Coach’s Journey is a special addition to the Hans & Scotty G. podcast feed hosted by Hans Olsen. Olsen seeks to have in-depth conversations with local college football coaches about their ups and downs as they chase the dream.

Follow Hans Olsen on Twitter and Instagram here.

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A Coach’s Journey: BYU Defensive Coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki