After no announcements of any changes, it appeared the BYU football coaching staff might stay intact from 2019 to 2020.
That changed Friday when Arizona announced it had hired Cougar running backs coach AJ Steward to coach the same position in Tempe, Arizona.
“My wife Virginia and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Tucson and make the University of Arizona our home,” Steward said in a statement released by Arizona. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue my coaching career under someone like Coach (Kevin) Sumlin, and I can’t wait to get to work with our young men!”
Steward had been in Provo since 2018, leaving his previous position at Rice and joining the BYU staff with the arrival offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes.
“We couldn’t be happier to be welcoming AJ to the Arizona Football Family,” Sumlin said in the statement. “AJ brings a work ethic and experience that will impact the development of our student-athletes in a very positive way. His passion for the game, passion for making a difference and his recruiting background make him a great fit for our staff.”
The Cougars had a number of contributors at running back in 2019 although the unit was decimated by injuries.
Steward tweeted out his appreciation to BYU football and Cougar fans.
“Thank You Cougar Nation For Embracing My Family These Past 2 Seasons!” Steward tweeted from his @Coach_Steward Twitter account. “I’ve Built Great Relationships With Great People In Provo! Most Of All, I’d Like To Thank Coach Sitake For The Opportunity, Our Staff For Helping Me Grow, & My Players For All Of Their Hard Work & Effort!”
Thank You Cougar Nation For Embracing My Family These Past 2 Seasons! I’ve Built Great Relationships With Great People In Provo! Most Of All, I’d Like To Thank Coach Sitake For The Opportunity, Our Staff For Helping Me Grow, & My Players For All Of Their Hard Work & Effort! 🤙🏽— AJ Steward (@Coach_Steward) February 14, 2020
Grimes and BYU head coach Kalani Sitake will now have to find Steward’s replacement — a task they would likely prefer to complete before spring camp begins in early March.