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The Bruins have filled another one of their open coaching positions with a West Coast veteran.

UCLA football has hired UNLV defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a as its next defensive line coach, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman first reported Friday morning. UCLA Athletics announced Kauha’aha’a's hiring early Friday afternoon.

Earlier in December, the Bruins lost defensive line coach Johnny Nansen and outside linebackers coach Jason Kaufusi to their Pac-12 foe, Arizona. Hiring Washington’s outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe to replace Kaufusi on Wednesday, Kauha’aha’a’s arrival is a direct replacement for Nansen within the Bruins’ defensive staff.

Kauha’aha’a joined the Rebels’ staff in Dec. 2020 to become their defensive line coach after spending 2019 coaching against UCLA by overseeing USC’s defensive line.

Defensive analyst Clancy Pandergast has been in charge of the defensive line and outside linebacker corps since Nansen and Kaufusi left the program, and he will stay in charge for Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl matchup with NC State. Malloe will become the outside linebackers coach in 2022, but for the bowl game, the former Huskies’ co-defensive coordinator will be a defensive analyst.

Kauha’aha’a will also be a part of the bowl game staff in a similar temporarily reduced role. His entry into the Bruins’ program was not held up by any UNLV games, considering the Rebels did not make a bowl game after finishing the 2021 season with a 2-10 record.

Playing his college ball at Utah, Kauha’aha’a has a rich history in the West Coast region. Appearing at both defensive line and linebacker, he earned Second Team All-WAC honors in 1996.

Starting his coaching career as head coach at Baldwin High School (HI), Kauha’aha’a then joined the collegiate ranks when he became the defensive line coach at Weber State from 2005 to 2008. He then spent the following four years coaching the defensive line and defensive tackles at Utah State and his alma mater Utah, respectively. Then, from 2013 to 2015, he coached defensive line at Wisconsin.

Kauha’aha’a held the most responsibility in his coaching career when he coached the defensive line and outside linebackers from 2015 to 2017 at Oregon State, also becoming associate head coach for the Beavers in 2016.

Coaching alongside Nansen in 2019 at USC, both Kauha’aha’a and Nansen were let go by coach Clay Helton following the 2019 season. Now, Kauha’aha’a will replace Nansen in Westwood.

During the 2021 season at UNLV, though the Rebels did not find many victories on the field, Kauha’aha’a led his group of linemen to a marginally better rushing defense than the Rebels had as a passing defense.

The Rebels allowed 172.0 rushing yards per game, while the Bruins allowed almost 50 fewer yards with 126.8 rushing yards allowed.

At USC, Kauha’aha’a coached First Team All-Pac-12 lineman Jay Tufele and second-teamer Drake Jackson. At Utah, he coached 2013 NFL Draft first rounder Star Lotulelei and Derrick Shelby to their First Team All-Pac-12 selections.

Coach Kelly has now brought two coaches with Polynesian ties into the program, with Nansen and Kaufusi standing out as key Pacific Island representatives on the staff the past two years. Both Malloe and Kauha’aha’a carry roots back from their homes in Hawai’i.

Kauha’aha’a does not have a well-defined recruiting history, but he carries a track record of professionals with almost a dozen of his alumni making the NFL.

Both Malloe and Kauha’aha’a have decent shoes to fill in Westwood replacing Kaufusi and Nansen, and their arrivals guarantee that Pandergast will not take one of the formerly open roles. Kelly alluded towards Pendergast not returning as an analyst moving forward when asked about his staff Wednesday, so he may be in the running for another job or simply spend another year in the booth.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro’s contract is set to expire following this season, but Kelly has now filled out the rest of the coaching staff on that side of the ball for the time being.

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