LOGAN – Bojay Filimoeatu knows a thing or two about being a part of Utah State football. After all, he played for the Aggies from 2011-12 and was coached by Gary Andersen during his two-year Aggie career.
Filimoeatu played a key role in turning USU’s football program around as he helped the Aggies to an 18-8 record, including a 2012 Western Athletic Conference championship as that team posted a school-best 11-2 record and defeated Toledo 41-15 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the school’s second-ever bowl win at the time.
Filimoeatu was officially announced as the Aggies' defensive ends coach on Dec. 19. The Salt Lake City native has three years of collegiate coaching experience, most recently coaching linebackers the past two seasons at San José State. He also played professionally for the Oakland Raiders in 2014.
Following one of the team's practices earlier this week, we caught up with Filimoeatu for a Q&A.
Q: Talk about having the opportunity to be an assistant coach at your alma mater?
Filimoeatu: "It's special. Watching them from afar last year and what this team has done was great. To come home is special. I played here, I was a part of the program when Coach Andersen was the head coach back in 2012. To come back and coach with him is even more special. Logan and Cache Valley is different from where I've been and where I've been coaching at for the past three years. The fans, the city and the kids are special. It's great being back."
Q: You had the opportunity to play for Coach Andersen. What is it like to coach for him?
Filimoeatu: "I'm always close with coach and he's always been a father figure in my life. To work with him is something special. He's always picking all of our brains, getting on the edge and trying to find new ways to coach players. To see the other side and who he is, he's still the same guy from when I was being coached by him. Now being on his side of coaching is tremendous in ways where you can see he's not two different people. You get that with a lot of guys and with him, it's the same guy. It's been great and I love the guy dearly. He knows that and I'm excited to be going into my fourth year with him."
Q: You played a big part as a player in turning this program around and into what it is today. How proud are you of what Utah State football has become?
Filimoeatu: "It's awesome. Talking about the rough times in 2011 when we first started with the losing streak and we finally flipped it. Going into 2012, winning the WAC championship was special. Seeing what it is now, from the hard times to now, where you see the facilities and now you see the players and what they're getting is special. From playing before and to come back, we always talk about how awesome it is to see what these kids are getting now. What this program has turned into is a winning culture. When I first got here, it wasn't (a winning culture) and now it is."
Q: You are married to a former Aggie softball player and you have a son. How special is it for you and your family to come back to Utah State?
Filimoeatu: "It was one of the biggest reasons why I came back is because of my wife (Hailey Froton) and her relationship with her former coach and this is where we met. We wanted to be back in Logan, we knew that for sure. This is a special place for her and I. What it is now is home. It's always going to be home. She's from California, I'm from Salt Lake City, but Logan is home. You can't beat coming home."
Q: Can you talk about all the changes in this program both on and off the field from the time you graduated in 2012 until now?
Filimoeatu: "The biggest difference I've seen so far is the stuff that these guys get. Back then, we didn't have the training table and the fueling station. To see what these guys get and have the actual stuff that they need to be successful on and off the field is awesome. It's going in the right direction and Coach Andersen is still fighting for stuff. The biggest part is now they have the tools to get where we're going."
Q: What have your impressions been of the Aggie defense thus far this spring?
Filimoeatu: "They are a really hard-working crew. The efforts are there and these guys want to be better. They love the game and each and every one of those guys push each other. They do a lot of the coaching themselves about effort and hustle. If one guy is slacking, another guy picks it up and tells him to get going. That's the biggest part is you can always coach, but when you get the players pushing themselves, that's awesome. That's what these guys are."
Q: You are coaching the defensive ends. Obviously, Tipa Galeai has a bright future. What do you see in him?
Filimoeatu: "His first step is unbelievable and out of this world. Having him coming off the edge is going to make my life a lot easier. The kid is gifted and he gives us an awesome defensive end on third downs. The best part about him is he's a humble kid and he's willing to work. Since I got here, he's put on weight, strength and he's put on more speed. I'm excited to see what he does in the fall. He'll be special because I challenged him a little bit and I want him to break the 10-sack barrier and go from there. That's the goal we set for him and it will be exciting to see what he does for us in the fall."
Q: How did you get into coaching?
Filimoeatu: "It wasn't planned. I wanted to do it later on in my life, but Coach Andersen called me up right after I was done playing with the Oakland Raiders and he told me to get out to Corvallis, Oregon, and that's where I started as a quality control and inside linebackers coach and I fell in love with it. I always tell this to people: I love coaching more than I loved playing. Just to see a kid that you're teaching and coaching and for him to be successful on the field is special. I get more pleasure off of that than with me getting to play. That's the most important thing for me is to make sure that these young men are getting all my effort every single day. That's the best part about coaching."1 comment on this story
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you are not coaching football?
Filimoeatu: "I'm at home watching Netflix with my wife, my son and my two dogs. My wife and I are big homebodies. We love being home with our dogs and our son. That's the best part about it."
Q: Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents?
Filimoeatu: "I play guitar a little bit and am a big dog person. I love my dogs like they're my little kids. It's always been like that. My oldest dog is a boy and he is like my first son. I'm a pet lover."