LOGAN, Utah – Justin Ena, who has 10 years of collegiate coaching experience, including five seasons as defensive coordinator, has been named Utah State’s defensive coordinator, it was announced Friday by Aggie head football coach Gary Andersen.
Ena (pronounced eh-nuh), who has coached in three bowl games in his 10 years as an assistant, will also coach the inside linebackers at Utah State.
Prior to his appointment at Utah State, Ena spent the past four seasons at Utah serving as the Utes’ co-special teams coordinator for three of those years, and working with the linebackers all four seasons.
During the 2018 season, Ena helped Utah’s defense rank among the top 20 in the nation in several categories, including fifth in rushing defense (101.8 yards allowed per game), ninth in tackles for loss (7.9 per game), 15th in total defense (315.1 yards allowed per game) and 16th in scoring defense (18.5 points per game allowed).
Under Ena, the linebackers helped Utah rank in the top 30 in rushing defense in each of the last four seasons, including a No. 5 ranking in 2018 and a No. 6 ranking in 2015.
Individually, Ena coached Utah linebacker Chase Hansen to three All-America honors this past season. Hansen, who led Utah with 114 tackles this year, leads the Pac-12 and ranks fifth in the nation with 22.0 tackles for loss. He is also tied for fourth nationally in tackles for loss per game (1.7). Hansen, who is tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with 5.0 sacks, has recorded at least 10 tackles in six games this season. Hansen was also named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week twice this season.
In all, Ena coached two linebackers to all-Pac 12 honors in 2018 as Hansen was named to the first team and senior Cody Barton earned honorable mention honors.
Linebackers Gionni Paul (first team) and Jared Norris (second team) earned all-Pac-12 honors in Ena’s first season with the Utes in 2015. Paul led the Utes in tackles with 117 and was a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week as a senior. Norris is in his third season as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers.
As co-special teams coordinator at Utah, Ena’s coverage units played a role in the Utes winning the NCAA net punting title in 2016, while the 2017 team finished fifth in the nation in net punting and the 2018 team ranked 15th. Furthermore, Utah has had three kickers earn All-America honors in Ena’s four years at Utah in punter Tom Hackett (2015), punter Mitch Wishnowsky (2016, 2017, 2018) and kicker Matt Gay (2017, 2018).
Prior to Utah, Ena was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Weber State in 2014 and a six-year assistant at Southern Utah from 2008-13, including the last four as the defensive coordinator. He was also SUU’s special teams coordinator his first two seasons.
Southern Utah achieved NCAA FCS top-25 national rankings on both special teams and defense with Ena as a coordinator, including a No. 1 rank in net punting in 2009. The Thunderbirds also ranked No. 3 in punt return average and No. 6 in net punting in 2008, No. 9 in punt return average in 2009, No. 17 in scoring defense, No. 21 in total defense and No. 21 in run defense in 2010, No. 13 in sacks per game and No. 19 in pass defense in 2011, and No. 5 in turnover margin in 2012.
The 2013 T-birds finished second in the Big Sky Conference in total defense and third in scoring defense.
Individual honors during Ena’s time at SUU included two-year All-America punter Trevor Ward and return specialist Nick Miller, the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards in 2008. Other accolades went to All-America defensive tackle Cody Larsen and Freshman All-Americans Zak Browning (linebacker), and James Cowser (defensive end). Browning was the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year in 2012.
The Thunderbirds placed 12 defenders on the all-Great West Conference team from 2010-11, including 10 first-team selections. Tyler Osborne became SUU’s first GWC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
Ena earned his bachelor’s degree in history from BYU in 2001. He was a three-year starter and three-time Mountain West all-conference linebacker for the Cougars. He played four seasons in the NFL, three with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Tennessee Titans, playing in 47 NFL games from 2002-05.
Ena and his wife, Dana, have one son, Justice, and one daughter, Olivia.
Justin Ena File
2019 – Utah State – Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers
2016-18 – Utah – Co-Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers
2015 – Utah – Linebackers
2014 – Weber State – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2010-13 – Southern Utah – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2008-09 – Southern Utah – Special Teams Coordinator
Bowl Games (3):
Utah – Heart of Dallas, 2017; Foster Farms, 2016; Las Vegas, 2015.
1998-2001 – BYU – Linebacker
2002-04 – Philadelphia Eagles – Linebacker
2005 – Tennessee Titans – Linebacker
2001 – BYU – History
Wife – Dana; Son – Justice; Daughter – Olivia