Steve Kaufusi has figured in the success of Utah's defensive line on several fronts over the past six years. He started as a graduate assistant for the best Ute team ever back in 1994, then accepted a promotion to defensive line coach the next year. After two years in that capacity, his scope was narrowed to the defensive ends, a position he has coached since 1997. That move has paid dividends for both Kaufusi and the Utes, as it allows him to concentrate on his specific area of expertise, the defensive ends. Off the field, Kaufusi has also emerged as a key recruiter for Utah's football program and is credited with landing several of Utah's top players.
As a graduate assistant in 1994, Kaufusi helped coach first-team All-American Luther Elliss, generally acknowledged as the best defensive lineman ever to play for Utah. It prepared him for coaching the next great Ute lineman, John Frank, who was a first-team all-conference player from 1998-99 and the 1999 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. The latest player to benefit from Kaufusi's coaching is his younger brother Jason, the third Kaufusi brother to play defense during Steve's tenure on the staff. Jason was named the 2000 Mountain West Conference co-Freshan of the Year after a tremendous rookie season at open end.
The elder Kaufusi also played a role in the development of his first two brothers to star for Utah. Henry played from 1994-95 and made the all-WAC second team as a senior, and Jeff was a starter during his career from 1994-96.
As for recruiting, Kaufusi's talent in that area is well known. After achieving full-time coaching status in 1995, he immediately sparked a landmark recruiting year for Utah. His extensive recruiting in Hawaii has attracted some of the Islands' most highly rated prep stars, including 1995 WAC Freshman of the Year Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, now an NFL player for Pittsburgh. Kaufusi has continued to hook some of Hawaii's best high school talent each succeeding year. He was also instrumental in recruiting four of his brothers to the U., all whom have contributed significantly to the program. His brother Doug, a 2000 first-team all-Mountain West Conference offensive lineman, will be a senior this year. Jason, now a sophomore, plays for the defense, as did Henry and Jeff.
PLAYERS COACHED BY KAUFUSI
PLAYING CAREER As a defensive lineman for Brigham Young, Kaufusi made the all-conference team in 1987 and was named BYU's best conditioned athlete. The Cougars finished second in the WAC both years he played there. Prior to his BY career, Kaufusi was an all-conference junior college player for Dixie College. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988 and played in the NFL for four years (1988-91). In 1992, Kaufusi played for the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football (W.L.A.F.).