BYU hires former Cougar great Harvey Unga as running backs coach


PROVO, Utah – BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake today announced the hiring of Harvey Unga as running backs coach. Unga, a Provo native and former standout Cougar running back, has spent the past four seasons as a graduate assistant coach on BYU’s offensive staff.

“I am excited to announce Harvey Unga as our running backs coach,” Sitake said. “Harvey is a great young coach who was an elite player for BYU and is an extremely humble person. He knows the game, relates well to the players, and has done an outstanding job the past four years on our staff. We are excited to have him step into this role, and know he will excel in helping the young men in our program learn, grow and develop.”

Unga has worked with running backs, wide receivers and the offensive line in his four years as a graduate assistant.  

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity. It has been a dream of mine to coach at BYU and also coach the position I played,” Unga said. “I’m grateful to Tom Holmoe, Brian Santiago, Kalani Sitake, coach (Jeff) Grimes and the staff for their trust in allowing me to take on this role. It is humbling. Above all, I’m thankful to my Heavenly Father and especially thank my wife and family for their love and support that make it all possible. The boys on the team have all been supportive of me, and I can’t wait to help them achieve their goals.”

The only BYU player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, Unga finished his collegiate career as the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher in 2009 with 3,455 rushing yards. Unga’s rushing record stood until 2016 when Jamaal Williams surpassed him in Unga’s first year as a graduate assistant on the coaching staff. Unga also helped in the development of All-American offensive lineman Tejan Koroma while working with BYU’s offensive line.

As a player, Unga earned Freshman All-America honors in 2007 after redshirting in 2006. He rushed for 1,227 yards to set the Mountain West Conference freshman record en route to winning MWC Freshman of the Year honors. With 655 receiving yards, his 1,840 all-purpose yards shattered the previous MWC record of 1,328 set in 2002.

In 2008, Unga ran for 1,132 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding four receiving scores and 309 yards. He earned Sophomore All-America Team honorable mention by College Football News.  In his final season in 2009, Unga topped the 1,000-yard mark for the third time with 1,087 yards and another 11 touchdowns, earning his third consecutive MWC all-conference selection.

Unga concluded his college career with 3,455 rushing yards, 36 rushing touchdowns, 1,085 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He is still No. 2 in career rushing yards at BYU, No. 2 in rushing attempts (696), No. 2 in total touchdowns (45), No. 5 in scoring (272) and No. 4 in all-purpose yards (4,540).

The former Timpview product played some of his best games in the biggest matchups. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry against ranked opponents and rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his three contests against rival Utah, totaling 61 carries, 373 yards and four touchdowns.

The Chicago Bears selected Unga in the 2010 NFL Supplemental Draft and he was with the Bears for parts of the 2010-13 seasons. He also signed with the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 before concluding his NFL career.

Unga earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from BYU in 2012 and will complete a master’s of public administration this year at the BYU Marriott School of Business. His wife, Keilani, played basketball at BYU and just completed her first season as an assistant basketball coach at Utah Valley University. They have four children, Jackson, Leila, Makai and Naomi.