MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HONOLULU - University of Hawai'i head football coach Nick Rolovich announced the hiring of Lawrence "Legi" Suiaunoa as a defensive assistant.
Suiaunoa is the sixth member of Rolovich's inaugural staff and third new hire along with offensive coordinator Zak Hill and offensive assistant Brian Smith. Three members of last season's staff were retained - offensive line coach Chris Naeole, secondary coach Abe Elimimian, and special teams coordinator Jake Cookus.
"Legi is well-respected as a defensive coach and recruiter in the coaching world," Rolovich said. "He connects so well with people because he is genuine. A Polynesian man who has stayed true to his cultural values and has represented his family very well throughout his career. His story is one that will resonate through our locker room and community. Parents will be lining up to have their sons mentored by him. We are very fortunate to have him."
A native of Oceanside, Calif., Suiaunoa has spent most of his career coaching the defensive line, including the past five seasons at Montana, where the Griz advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs four times during his tenure. Over the past three years, the Griz ranked in the top ten nationally in sacks - fifth in 2015 (3.31 per game), seventh in 2014 (3.20), and second in 2013 (3.73).
At Montana, Suiaunoa coached record-setting defensive end Zack Wagenmann, who set school records for career sacks (37.5), tackles for loss (53) and forced fumbles (11); was a three-time all-conference pick; All-American; and finished third as FCS's top defensive player in 2014. In addition, Suiaunoa coached tackle Tonga Takai to first-team all-league honors in 2014 while end Tyrone Holmes and tackle Trevor Rehm were honorable mention selections.
Prior to Montana, Suiaunoa spent the 2010 season as defensive line coach at Portland State and was defensive coordinator at Eastern Oregon for the 2009 season. Before that he spent four seasons at Western Washington (2005-08), coaching the linebackers in his first two seasons and defensive line the next two while also serving as strength coach during the 2008 campaign.
Suiaunoa was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, the University of Nevada, in 2004. He began his coaching career at Palomar (Calif.) Junior College in 2002 and '03, as linebackers coach, where the Comets went a combined 18-4 including a 10-1 mark and No. 4 final ranking in 2002.
Suiaunoa earned a degree in general studies administration from Nevada in 2002. Before becoming a three-year starting linebacker for the Wolf Pack, he played one season at Palomar, winning a junior college national championship in 1997.
He and his wife, Rose, have two sons, Lawrence (five) and Ramsey (two), daughter Timena (born 7/9/15) and three teenage girls Malae (18), Sarai(16), and Rosalani (15).
1997 Palomar JC
2011-15 Montana, Defensive Line
2010 Portland State, Defensive Line
2009 Eastern Oregon, Defensive Coordinator
2007-08 Western Washington, Defensive Line/Strength Coach
2005-06 Western Washington, Linebackers
2004 Nevada, Graduate Assistant