Sitake hires Gilford, Mahe and Ofahengaue to finalize BYU football coaching staff


BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake finalized his coaching staff with the hiring of Jernaro Gilford as cornerbacks coach, Reno Mahe as running backs coach and Tevita Ofahengaue as the director of recruiting operations.

“I’m pleased to announce the final additions to the coaching staff and our director of recruiting,” Sitake said. “Jernaro was not only a great corner but also has done an excellent job as a coach developing young men into NFL-caliber players. Reno is energetic, loves BYU and brings NFL experience as a running back and return specialist. Tevita has excellent recruiting connections and is passionate about helping young men be successful.”

Sitake also announced staff member’s responsibilities:

  • Ty Detmer, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
  • Mike Empey, offensive line
  • Ben Cahoon, receivers
  • Steve Clark, tight ends
  • Reno Mahe, running backs
  • Ilaisa Tuiaki, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach
  • Ed Lamb, assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach
  • Steve Kafusi, defensive line
  • Jernaro Gilford, cornerbacks

Gilford returns to his alma mater to coach, as do several members of the coaching staff. He played for the Cougars as a cornerback from 1999-2003 and is remembered for a 50-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter against rival Utah, sealing BYU’s 24-21 victory in 2001. Gilford also received first team All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2001. He started in 28 of 37 games and had 10 interceptions as a Cougar.

Gilford was a graduate assistant at Whittier College in Whittier, California for two years, coaching cornerbacks and helping out with special teams. He continued to coach cornerbacks at Southern Utah University in 2014.

“I feel blessed by the opportunities I’ve received both at SUU and now at BYU,” Gilford said. “SUU will always have a special place with me as the first Division-I school to give me a chance to coach. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to come back to BYU, where I played college football, and contribute once again to such a great program.”

Mahe, (pronounced mah-hay), played running back and wide receiver for the Cougars from 1998-1999 and 2001-2002. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman and later earned First-Team All-MWC and First-Team Media All-MWC honors as a junior in 2001.

He played four seasons (2003-2005) for the Philadelphia Eagles as a running back and a return specialist. Mahe totaled 1,600 return yards in five seasons and led the NFL in punt return average in 2005. He also played in Super Bowl XXXIX as a member of the 2004 NFC Championship team.

“It is very humbling to have this opportunity,” Mahe said. “I’m excited to return to this unique and great university, and I’m grateful for the chance to contribute to the BYU football program coaching running backs.”

Ofahengaue, (pronounced oh-fah-hay-NAH-way), comes to BYU as the director of recruiting operations after five years as vice president of the AIGA Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps Polynesian athletes find scholarship opportunities.

“I’m extremely blessed and excited to be part of the BYU football program,” Ofahengaue said. “My job is to go get the best kids who will thrive here at BYU, and it’s truly an honor to be back at my alma mater.”

The Hawaii native was a member of BYU’s roster from 1997-2000 and played tight end. Ofahengaue was named to the All-Mountain West Conference Second Team as a junior in 2000.

The Arizona Cardinals picked Ofahengaue with the final pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. He was a member of the Cardinals’ practice squad that year as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad in 2002.

Ofahengaue got involved in the coaching and administrative side of football in 2001 when he became the director of football operations for the Gridiron Classic College All-Star game until 2003. He then coached tight ends and running backs at Kahuku High School in Hawai’i from 2003-2005. The University of Utah hired Ofahengaue in 2005 as the assistant director of football operations, where he focused on recruiting. He also served as a staff coordinator for the Hula Bowl College All-Star game from 2005-2007. He has coached locally at the high school level since that time such as Westlake, Lehi and Orem, where he was the wide receivers coach from 2014-2015.

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