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Utah Football Hires Ute-Great Luther Elliss as DT Coach

Luther Elliss, photo credit: Vandals Athletics
Luther Elliss, photo credit: Vandals Athletics

The University of Utah filled their defensive line coaching vacancy on Wednesday with the man that had become the model for excellence along the school’s defensive line. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has named Luther Elliss, arguably the G.O.A.T of all Utah Football G.O.A.T.s, as their next defensive tackles coach.

Elliss will be tasked with coaching up and upholding the tradition of dominance that he started while being coached by Whittingham’s father, Fred Whittingham Sr. As a college player in the early 1990s, Elliss was a three-time All-WAC defensive lineman, WAC Player of the Year, and a consensus All-American in 1994. He’d go on to the NFL as the No. 20 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions from 1995-2003 where he made two Pro Bowls. He was a starter for most of his career, totaling 119 starts in 134 games. He finished his career in his home state of Colorado with the Denver Broncos in 2004.

Elliss has coached the defensive line for the Idaho Vandals since 2017. In 2021, his Vandals unit averaged 2.82 sacks per game. He now returns to his alma mater where his son Jonah Elliss emerged late in the 2021 as a situational force on the Utes defense. He has a promising and stacked group to mentor and mold, headlined by Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, Junior Tafuna.

Known for his energy on the field as a player, Elliss brings that same emotion as a coach. While he’ll look to build his credibility on the recruiting trail, there’s no question that he’ll be an excellent recruiter during campus visits, and Utah couldn’t have gotten a better coach for teaching the finer details of the position.

This was a unique hiring process that had to stay inside Whittingham’s circle of trust and coaching tree. While other names were considered like former Ute and current Arizona Wildcats assistant coach Jason Kaufusi, Whittingham couldn’t have found a better coach more suited for the task ahead: helping coach up and continue the dominance that he once brought to the program as a player over 30 years ago.