Assistant Head Coach
2005 - Utah
Assistant Head Coach
2009 - 11
2003-04 - Southern Utah
2002 - Brigham Young
2001 - Eastern Arizona
Special Teams Coordinator
2005 - Emerald Bowl
2006 - Armed Forces Bowl
2007 - Poinsettia Bowl
2008 (2009) - Sugar Bowl
2009 - Poinsettia Bowl
2010 - Las Vegas Bowl
2011 - Sun Bowl
Kalani Sitake (pronounced ka-lah-nee sih-TA-kay), a member of head coach Kyle Whittingham's original staff, will close out a decade at Utah in the fall. Hired as the linebacker coach in 2005, Sitake would become the first native Tongan defensive coordinator at an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision school in 2009. He added assistant head coach to his title in 2012.
Sitake has maintained Utah's longtime tradition as one of the top defensive teams in the nation even against the prolific offenses of the Pac-12 Conference. The Utes have finished in the top 25 of the NCAA defensive statistical rankings 18 times in his first nine years, with 10 of those coming since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011.
Those top 25 rankings by season are: 2009--pass efficiency defense (9th), opponent third down conversions (9th), pass defense (16th), total defense (19th), scoring defense (23rd); 2010--opponent fourth down conversions (3rd), rushing defense (10th), opponent first downs (10th), scoring defense (25th); 2011-- interceptions (6th), scoring defense (19th), rushing defense (20th), pass efficiency defense (24th); 2012--opponent fourth down conversions (11th), fumble recoveries (19th), rushing defense (22nd); 2013--sacks per game (2nd), rushing defense (20th).
In their first Pac-12 season, the Utes led the conference in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, interceptions and fourth-down conversion defense, while finishing third in total defense and rushing defense. In 2012, Utah led the Pac-12 Conference in opponent first downs and opponent fourth-down conversion defense, while placing second in rushing defense and fifth in total defense. Last year, Sitake's defense led the Pac-12 in sacks per game and finished third in rushing defense and tackles for loss.
Sitake has coached nine players to a total of 10 first-team all-conference awards (five Mountain West Conference, four Pac-12 Conference), a Morris Award winner and two Freshman All-Americans.
Sitake's first-team all-MWC defenders were linebackers Spencer Toone (2005) and Stevenson Sylvester (2009), linemen Koa Misi (2009) and Christian Cox (2010), and safety Robert Johnson (2009). His Pac-12 first-team all-conference defenders are all defensive linemen: Star Lotulelei (2011, 2012), Derrick Shelby (2011) and Trevor Reilly (2013). Lotulelei also won the Morris Award as the Pac-12's top defensive lineman in 2011. Making Freshman All-America teams were true freshmen safeties Brian Blechen in 2010 and Eric Rowe in 2011.
Sitake's protégés have gone on to impact NFL rosters as well, including these 10 draft picks: Lotulelei was selected by Carolina in the first round of the 2013 draft with the 14th overall pick; Misi (Miami) was taken in the second round; Keith McGill was a fourth-round draft pick (Oakland); Johnson (Tennessee), Sylvester (Pittsburgh) and Brandon Burton (Minnesota) all went in the fifth round; and Toone (Tennessee), R.J. Stanford (Carolina), Joe Kruger (Philadelphia) and Reilly (New York Jets) were seventh-round picks. Shelby (Miami), Tevita Finau (N.Y. Jets), Sealver Siliga (New England), Tenny Palepoi (San Diego) and LT Tuipulotu (New England) are undrafted free agents on current NFL rosters, while Christian Cox (New England) played one season as an undrafted free agent.
Sitake has also earned a reputation for his recruiting abilities and 247Sports named him to its Class of 2012 Top 50 recruiters.
He came to Utah after two seasons at Southern Utah, where he coached the Thunderbird running backs and tight ends in 2003 and the offensive line and tight ends in 2004.
He began his career at Eastern Arizona in 2001 as the defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator, and coached two junior college All-Americans (one first team). In 2002, he went to Brigham Young as a defensive graduate assistant.
Los Angeles, Utah, Florida
Playing Career Sitake started at fullback all four years of a Brigham Young career that spanned seven years. He played as a freshman in 1994, followed by an LDS Church mission. He returned for the 1997 season and started the first three games before undergoing back surgery and redshirting. He was a regular in the starting lineup in 1998, 1999 and 2000 - missing the last two games of 1999 after breaking his leg against Wyoming. He was named BYU's Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1998, Impact Player of the Year in 1999 and team captain and Most Valuable Running Back in 2000. He went to the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent in 2001, but was forced to retire due to a back injury.
Brigham Young, 2000
Bachelor of Arts in English
Hometown: Laie, Hawaii and Provo, Utah
Birthplace: Nukualofa, Tonga
Attended Kirkwood HS in St. Louis, Mo.
Family: Married to the former Timberly Friddle. Daughters Skye and Sadie; son Kelaokalani (KK).