BYU Football Will Retain Jernaro Gilford On Defensive Staff

Dec 7, 2022, 11:57 AM | Updated: 12:00 pm

BYU Football, Jernaro Gilford...

BYU football cornerback coach Jernaro Gilford will remain on the defensive staff under Jay Hill. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – One of the early tasks for BYU football defensive coordinator Jay Hill is assembling his coaches.

Hill, who comes to BYU from Weber State, was formally announced Wednesday. He will work alongside BYU head coach Kalani Sitake to piece together the rest of the defensive staff.

Two coaches on the defensive side of the ball are already in place. Kelly Poppinga will be a defensive assistant and special teams coordinator. Plus, Jernaro Gilford will be kept as BYU’s cornerback coach.

“We plan on retaining Jernaro Gilford,” Jay Hill said during his introductory press conference on Wednesday.

Jernaro Gilford has coached BYU’s cornerbacks since 2016

The move to keep Gilford comes as no surprise. Gilford has been on BYU’s defensive staff since Kalani Sitake was hired in 2016. Earlier this week, Gilford was involved with in-home recruiting visits for 2023 prospects as the Early Signing Period opens up later this month.

The former BYU cornerback has a history of pulling in talented defensive backs and developing them. Under Gilford’s watch, BYU produced its first cornerback selected in the NFL draft since the early 1990s when Chris Wilcox was picked in the 2021 draft.

BYU’s cornerback room has a lot of young personnel that will be in place for the move to the Big 12 Conference. Gilford recruited all of them to come to BYU.

A native of Hawthorne, California, Gilford has strong recruiting ties to Southern California and Junior College football.

BYU football defensive staff still taking shape

The rest of the defensive coaches from the 2022 staff will be based on evaluations from Sitake and Hill.

“That’s a current consideration still with Kalani and I in just putting the staff together,” Hill said. “Everybody is in consideration right now and just moving forward on exactly what that looks like, yeah.”

Those other coaches include Kevin Clune (linebackers) and Preston Hadley (safeties).

An FBS coaching staff can include ten full-time assistant coaches. With the additions of Hill and Poppinga, plus no changes to the offensive staff, BYU has two openings left on the staff.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s BYU football coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Will Retain Jernaro Gilford On Defensive Staff