An offseason of coaching staff upheaval has come to an end in Provo.
AJ Steward, the football program announced Tuesday, has been named as the Cougars running backs coach. The 28-year-old Steward, who played his college football at Kansas, had spent the past four seasons as the running backs coach at Rice before moving on to BYU.
Steward’s first job at the collegiate level came as a graduate assistant for the Owls, meaning this move marks his first coaching gig outside of that Conference USA program.
“AJ is known as an excellent recruiter and for his ability to develop players,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement. “He has done great things as a running backs coach and brings unique experience from an outstanding academic school, which helps him understand one of the important focuses we have here at BYU. I’m excited to welcome AJ to our coaching staff.”
“My wife and I are tremendously excited and are blessed to join the BYU football family,” Steward said. “I am grateful for Coach Sitake, Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and Coach Grimes for entrusting me with this amazing opportunity to come to Provo and be part of the rich football tradition at BYU. I sincerely look forward to not only making a difference on the field but also making a life-long impact on the young men in the program.
“I also want to express my appreciation to Coach David Bailiff and Rice University for such a great experience, which has granted me the opportunity to learn, build and grow into the coach that I am today.”
Including Steward, five of the 10 coaches on Sitake’s staff weren’t with the program a year ago.
Three weeks after putting the finishing touches on a 4-9 season, the lowest point for the program since a 3-8 1970 campaign, BYU hired LSU line coach Jeff Grimes as its new coordinator. Grimes replaced Ty Detmer, who was fired in late November after directing an offense that was 123rd (out of 129 teams) in scoring and 118th in yards. In late December, three new offensive assistants were added as well.
On the defensive side, longtime assistant Steve Kaufusi stepped down from his post as linebackers coach last month and was replaced by Preston Hadley, who was named safeties coach. Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers job. All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.