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Legi Suiaunoa spent two seasons at Hawaii before landing at Oregon State as the Beavers' defensive line coach.

Photo courtesy of University of Hawaii

Oregon State defensive line coach Legi Suiaunoa is facing one of the tougher rebuilds of the Beavers' new football staff members.

The defensive line has gone through some rough times in recent seasons and enters the 2018 offseason lacking depth at tackle and overall numbers at end.

Suiaunoa will have defensive tackles Kalani Vakameilalo and Elu Aydon back but there's not much behind those two.

End will be a key position for the Beavers if they go primarily with a 4-3 set, which Suiaunoa coached at Hawaii. Lamone Williams and Thor Katoa could fit in that scheme but the Beavers lost Baker Pritchard, Phillip Napoleon and Titus Failauga.

That makes filling out the recruiting class all the more important. So Suiaunoa and his fellow assistant coaches have spent most of their first month on the job concentrating on bringing in players that fit the roles needed by the team.

"Recruiting for us is the lifeblood of what we do as a football staff and I know we lost a lot of good players," Suiaunoa said. "I was able to watch a little bit of film of what's coming back. I am excited for what I saw in some guys that I know are coming back, but that's college football. Each year you've got to replace (players). The locker room never looks the same after every year. The room's never going to be the same every year. It's kind of the life that we live, and so we've got to be able to adjust and keep moving forward. The expectation doesn't change. We've got to be able to put a product on the field that helps us win football games, so I'm excited to try to get that done."

Suiaunoa spent the last two seasons at Hawaii, coaching the defensive line and then serving as defensive coordinator last season.

That gives him a connection to the area as a recruiter. He also should be adept at recruiting Polynesian players in general.

"Obviously, being a Polynesian myself, the opportunities for our people to get to play this great game is awesome," he said. "So we're in the profession of trying to recruit the best players we can get into Corvallis. They've had a rich tradition of having great Polynesian players here, so I'm excited to hopefully have the chance to get that.

"But ultimately you want to recruit good men that are good football players to get into this program. If they happen to be Polynesian, I'm great, that's awesome. I get to enjoy that."

Suiaunoa also has ties to the Pacific Northwest as he was an assistant at Montana for five years and made stops at Portland State, Eastern Oregon and Western Washington.

"So I've recruited the state. My first full-time coaching job was in Bellingham, Washington. My in-laws live up in Tacoma, my brother's up in Tacoma, so the Northwest is almost home away from home for me," he said.

"So getting an opportunity to come back here to the Northwest, we love it up here, we enjoyed living here, our time here. My oldest was born here in the state of Oregon. So there's a lot of ties to me and this place that makes this job special coming back."

Suiaunoa was drawn to the opportunity to coach alongside Jonathan Smith and work toward rebuilding the program.

He wants to help develop the athletes into well-rounded men and win games.

"I know there's a tradition here," he said. "They've won here before, so there's an opportunity here to win some football games and I'm excited to be a part of trying to get that going again."


Sports Reporter

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