OGDEN — Jared Ursua and his young family had a settled role at Southern Utah University — as settled as college coaching can be, anyway.
The SUU receivers coach was retained in 2016 after his first year there when longtime head coach Ed Lamb was hired at BYU and the Thunderbirds named defensive coordinator Demario Warren as head coach.
Ursua coached on two teams (2015, 2017) that won the Big Sky championship. But when Kelly Bills and Al Pupunu moved on from WSU to other jobs, WSU head coach Jay Hill knew Ursua, four years a Thunderbird, was a call he needed to make.
"Watching Jared from afar, his receiver group (at SUU) was always one of the best taught, played the hardest. They always made plays," Hill said.
Ursua explains his experience from there:
"The most immediate thing that struck me was how much coach Hill had a deep relationship with his players. He knew them, he knew their lives, he didn’t talk to me just about them in a football sense, he talked about who they were as people and how I could help them in any aspect. That really stood out to me," he said. "Not that I hadn’t been around coaches who did that, but it was the first indicator that things were going the right way."
When he considered things like Weber State's consecutive top-10 finishes and, perhaps, learned of things like Stewart Stadium's new, state-of-the-art football facility, the opportunity became too good.
"From then on, hearing the trajectory of what the program was capable of, what was happening here, it was something that was, in my opinion, a no-brainer," Ursua said. "It was a decision where the players who were in place, the coaches here that I was going to be able to surround myself with, it was something that was going to be a major benefit to me and my coaching career."
Ursua pointed to coaches like Brent Myers and Dave Schramm as appealing assistants to work with, along with Hill at the head.
Ursua, a native of Hawaii, takes over a receivers group that, last year, was coached by offensive coordinator Schramm. It's still a young group but does return junior Rashid Shaheed, the return specialist who also has 66 career catches for 987 yards and eight touchdowns.
Sophomore Devon Cooley caught 33 balls for 403 yards and two touchdowns in his first season. Junior David Ames caught 12 passes last year and Ty MacPherson saw spot duty as a freshman two years ago. Junior Isiah Jackson emerged late last season to catch 14 passes and two touchdowns.
Ursua says his focus will always be on technique first, especially with this young of a position group.
"There’s always progress to be made with technique. I try to make sure they understand the fundamentals of the game and make sure we’re going to be the best players from a technique standpoint, and have a good knowledge of the game," he said.
"Having played the position, I know that the wide receiver position is difficult. Everything happens at 100 miles an hour. You have to be able to read a defender while running full speed. When you run as fast as Rashid Shaheed does, that’s not very easy."
After a spring with the program and a summer in Northern Utah, Ursua was happy with his decision to change sides of the in-state rivalry.
"I love being here, working for coach Hill. I love the players, the program, the culture," he said. "Ogden as a place for my family has been wonderful. I have zero complaints. This has been a great transition."