Kenny Cox | Posted: 7 Dec 2022 | Updated: 15 Dec 2022

Jay Hill and Kalani Sitake Media Availability

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Kalani and Jay Hill Presser

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake introduced new associate head coach and defensive coordinator Jay Hill in a press conference on Wednesday.

Watch the entire press conference here or read select comments from Coach Sitake and Coach Hill below. 

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
Opening Statement
“I’m really excited for this moment. I’m going to brag about [Jay Hill] for a little bit. I’m excited to announce our defensive coordinator and associate head coach Jay Hill. Jay is a local product from Lehi, a Utah County boy. He played football at Rick’s College and Utah as a cornerback. He played in the NFL as well with the Buffalo Bills. Afterward, he became a graduate assistant and coach for Ron McBride, Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham at Utah. I had the honor of working with him at Utah for nine years and seeing the things he did there. We speak the same language when it comes to defensive football. After our nine years together, he left to be the head coach at Weber State. He turned that school into a perennial power at the FCS level, going to the FCS playoffs six out of the last seven years. He did an amazing job there. Looking at his career, I’ve been really impressed with what he’s done. I’ve seen it first hand. The things that he's done, the knowledge that he has in all three phases of the game. He’s a special teams guru in addition to what he does with defense. He has experience coaching on the offensive side of the ball too. I’m really excited that he’s bringing all of that knowledge and experience to BYU. We are really fired up for the opportunity to work together again. We’re friends, so we’ve been able to stay in contact throughout our years even though we’ve been apart. My wife Timberly, our children and I, are really excited to welcome Jay Hill, his wife Sarah, his daughters Ashtyn (soon-to-be BYU graduate), Alayna and Allie, and his son Jacob. We’re excited for them to join our family. It’s my honor to introduce our associate head coach and defensive coordinator, Jay Hill.”

Further comments on hiring Hill
“Going into the Big 12 conference, we have to take care of our program, our players. You have to do everything you can to function as a program. That means attracting high level coaches and players. Jay’s a high-level coach, but it’s way deeper than that. He’s a great evaluator and amazing recruiter. I’m excited to get back with him and do home visits, official visits and all that stuff that we did back in the day when were assistants. Maybe it’s just a bunch of old guys trying to act like they’re young again, going back to what we were doing back in the day. He has this great presence that’s hard to explain, he just has it. I know it was hard for him to leave Weber State. I know a lot of players love him and admire the mentor he’s been to them. I hope he knows how much we appreciate him making that decision to join us. We’ll make sure he doesn’t regret it.”

On how quickly this hiring took to materialize
"Our friendship has always been there, we never stopped being friends and we’ve always been in contact. That’s just how it is. When Jay’s daughter Ashtyn came to BYU, he called me and Fesi and said, ‘you got to watch over her.’ I’ve got to see her a lot with her working at BYUtv and it was pretty easy. We’ve had this connection as friends for many years. Once we met and we were able to work together, the connection has always been there, the communication has always been there."

"In regard to the job, I wanted to be respectful of him and his team and he wanted to stay focused on the playoffs with them making a run. I wanted to give him time to do that, and I didn’t want to be inappropriate with our relationship and force this on him. But once the season unfortunately ended for Weber, it was our gain and I jumped to it as soon as I could so we could get this done as quickly as possible."

On the importance of naming a defensive coordinated as soon as possible
The transfer portal is part of recruiting and it’s important for me to get as many guys as we can working and the fact that we have Jernaro, Kelly and Jay available to do that, that definitely makes things a lot easier for me. I also know the type of recruiters that they are, the type of workers they are and the type of mentors they are to their players. I’m really excited in all aspects of our program that we’re moving forward, getting Jay here and just get this press conference over with so we can go to work.

On impact the new defensive staff will have on the bowl game
Jay [Hill] will be evaluating the talent, and Kelly [Poppinga] as well, and focusing on the fundamentals and technique. The game plan is on our graduate assistants and analyst, the ones that have been working since we knew that SMU would be our opponent. The thing that Jay [Hill] wants to do the most right now is to evaluate our players and give an assessment to them on where they sit and also look at the recruiting aspect. Those will be his primary focuses. He has knowledge in so many different ways that it would be foolish of me to know ask his expertise on defense, special teams and on offense. This guy knows it, he’s a great head coach and we’ll definitely be working a lot together. I’ll be getting a lot of advice and counsel from him.

BYU defensive coordinator and associate head coach Jay Hill
“Thank you, Kalani. I am super excited to be here at BYU. It’s kind of weird to come back. As Kalani mentioned, I grew up in Lehi. My parents went to BYU, I grew up a BYU fan. I remember going to football games at LaVell Edwards Stadium as a child. I remember going to BYU basketball games at the Marriott Center with my dad regularly. I remember having posters of BYU players hanging up in my room. It’s kind of weird how life brings you full circle in situations like this. I’m super excited to be back. Having played at Utah, coached at Weber State and grew up playing high school football locally, football in the state of Utah is something that’s always been super exciting to me. It’s always been my passion. Even when you’re at the University of Utah or another school like that, the admiration and respect we had for BYU is big. I know this is a place where we can play high level football. They’ve done it consistently through Kalani’s career. That was very intriguing to me. I’m excited to see what this can become, because I think the sky is the limit.”

On the challenge of leaving Weber State and the opportunity he sees at BYU
“It was extremely difficult, in that, at some point you have to go tell your team that you're moving on. Those were players that I loved. Those were assistant coaches that had given their lives to us. It was difficult to make that change. On the flip side, it was easy in that I had the opportunity to work with Kalani again in this program that he’s built. I believe in everything that he’s doing here. That made it much easier. I believe in everything BYU’s doing and the direction they’re heading. I’m excited by what we can continue to build. That drew me to this opportunity.”

On joining BYU as it enters the Big 12
“I think it’s awesome! It’s exciting for the fans, exciting for the coaches and players. The level of competition is going to be absolutely outstanding. This transition to the Big 12 was one of the most intriguing things about coming to BYU. Kalani and I both got to go through that when Utah [transitioned to the Pac-12]. It’s something we’re both familiar with. It comes down to coaching as hard as you can, giving it your all and having great players, which I believe we have.”

On the timing of his move to BYU
“It goes back to Kalani, the unbelievable program he’s built here and everything the administration has done at this institution to build what they have. That’s exciting to me. That played into the timeline of me making this move. I also felt like we had accomplished so much at Weber State. For nine years, my wife, kids and I had put our blood, sweat and tears into that program, building it into something that is now self-sustainable. I believe that program will continue to get better. This was the next venture in life that I felt like we really needed to take. This change is exciting for me. It was the right time and the right opportunity. I can’t overemphasize enough that Kalani was a huge part in that timing. It’s exciting to me to reunite with Kalani as well as [passing game coordinator] Fesi Sitake, [tight ends coach] Steve Clark and some other coaches that I’d already worked with before.”

On expectations for the BYU defense moving forward
“I promise that from Kalani and myself, you’re going to get everything we have. I believe we have great scheme and great knowledge in breaking down opponents. I believe that there’s great players here that, when put in the proper situations to make plays and be successful, they will do exactly that. I’m excited to get with the players and share with them my vision and Kalani’s vision for what this defense is exactly going to look like. More than anything, I’m excited to get going and get grinding away at high-level, big-time Power Five football, putting a product on the field that I promise the fans will be excited about.”

On the initial vision for the defense moving forward
“Absolutely I do. I think it’s going to look very similar to what Kalani ran when he was the defensive coordinator at Utah, and we worked so closely together. I think it’s going to look a lot like what we ran the last couple years at Weber State that led the league every year I coordinated it, in basically every defensive statistical category we had. It’s going to look a lot like the top-notch, big time defenses that you see in college football right now. It will be aggressive, there will be times we play coverage, there will be times that we blitz and there’s going to be things that we do to keep the quarterbacks on their toes. But if you ask, ‘do we have a vision of what this defense look like?’ Absolutely, I promise you that we aren’t going in here blind. We know exactly what we need to implement and what that will look like."

On the process of coming to BYU
"From my point of view, Kalani and these guys were extremely professional about it. Was the thought there that we could work together at some point, yeah, that’s been there for the last nine years. But he knew that we had something we were still trying to accomplish in the playoffs, and I knew that Kalani was busy with his own football team, so it’s really just been the last few days that things went really quickly."

On the timeline and process of completing the defensive staff
“It’s already been announced that Kelly Poppinga will be returning, we’re super excited about him. That was an easy one for me because I got to coach against him when he was a player, I knew just how tenacious and what a tough guy he was. Also, when he was a coach, he developed some of the best linebackers in the last 10 years here at BYU, some phenomenal NFL guys. That one was a no brainer for me. We plan on retaining Jernaro Gilford and then looking past that, it’s going to be Kalani and I evaluating the rest of the staff, evaluating who potentially is out there and making sure we get the best fits for the program. That’s going to be a big deal, who’s going to do the best job coaching the current players as well as who’s going to do a phenomenal job going out recruiting and putting those pieces in place. That’s what we do, recruit, get the best players in here and then do the best job to put them in positions to be successful."

On recruiting strategy to build a roster
"I’m looking forward to assessing the players that are currently here. Obviously, they get the first right to anything we’re doing because they’re already here and they deserve that. Just know that this is a never-ending cycle. Recruiting never stops and with the transfer portal especially, it never stops. Kalani and I will work tirelessly to have the best players on the field, ones that the fans can be super excited about."

"We made a name for ourselves when we were young coaches, the way we recruited together and everything we accomplished in the big time guys that we brought into the programs that we were at, we’re excited about continuing that together and I’m excited about getting on the road, recruiting with this current staff because I know what BYU has to offer and I know there are a lot of great players that will be excited about coming here."

On recruiting areas and hotbeds he has a good knowledge of
"As the head coach at Weber State, we focused mainly on the state of Utah, that’s where I’ve done the majority of my recruiting, even when I was at the University of Utah. I think we first and foremost need to put a stake in your own territory and then everything surrounding the state is critical as well. Nevada, Arizona, California, the pacific northwest; those will be critical hotbeds I feel comfortable recruiting. Then Texas as well needs to be a piece. I know recruiting here at BYU is a little different with BYU being such a national brand. We need to be able to expand it past that. Anything surrounding the state of Utah, I am extremely comfortable with as well as the state of Texas and really those are hotbeds for any big-time program out west."

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