Utah defensive lineman Logan Fano says scheme, coaching philosophy the reasons he left BYU

Fano transferred from BYU to Utah after one season in Provo.

(Hunter Dyke | Utah Athletics) Logan Fano (No. 0) practices during the first day of Utah Utes spring camp in Salt on March 21, 2023.

It was around this time last year that Logan Fano was shooting up the depth chart in his first spring camp at BYU.

Coming off a church mission, Fano was labeled as a potential starter in his first season by then-BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki.

But then Fano tore his ACL as spring camp ended. He sat out the entire 2022 season. And when it came time for the transfer portal to open, he entered his name and bolted up the highway to the University of Utah before ever playing a game as a Cougar.

So, what happened? As he goes through his first spring with the Utes, Fano says the reason he transferred wasn’t because of playing time or opportunity. It was because of BYU’s defensive scheme, Utah’s coaching and his hopes of playing professionally.

“I just felt like I have a really short amount of time to maximize my football potential,” Fano said. “How good can I be as a player? And I just felt like Utah was the place to be. Come play for [Utah defensive coordinator Morgan] Scalley and [the staff]. They have the keys to get to the next level. And I trust that. That was the main reason.”

Also: “They love to get after the quarterback. That is what I love to do. Scalley’s defense is pressure all the time. That is something that fits me really well.”

Without saying explicitly, Fano alluded to the fact that Tuiaki’s defense was essentially the opposite. It was known for playing “drop eight” coverage that did not put a premium on sacks.

Tuiaki often waffled on how important sacks were to the overall success of the unit. He also notably said before the 2022 season that he would not make any scheme adjustments to his system after a down year in 2021. A translation: He wouldn’t be more aggressive.

Fano watched on the sideline as those lack of adjustments led to BYU’s defense bottoming out to be 93rd in the nation last year. In particular, he also noticed that BYU ranked 127th in sacks and the premium was placed on other positions on the defense like linebacker.

“I think everybody knows we didn’t rush as much at BYU. It was more of, ‘D-line get the job done.’ In that way it is different [from Utah],” Fano said.

Fano said he did not seriously consider transferring until late in the season, once his ACL rehab was close to complete. At that point, he had to decide whether he wanted to burn a year of his eligibility in a system he felt didn’t reward him.

At Timpview High School, Fano was known as an elite pass rusher who tallied 20.5 sacks. He was rated a four-star prospect and had offers from Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. At the time, he also didn’t know whether Tuiaki would stay in 2023 — keeping that system — or leave.

Ultimately, Tuiaki resigned a day after the regular season. Former Weber State head coach Jay Hill took over, who is much more aggressive. But Fano had already made his choice at that point. He never met Hill.

“I didn’t meet him,” Fano said. “I’ve heard great things about him though.”

Fano admitted another element to the transfer was his younger brother, Spencer, also committed to Utah out of high school to play offensive lineman. He always talked about playing with his brother.

But that was not the main influence. He also pointed out that he entered the transfer portal without knowing where Spencer Fano would end up.

“I didn’t know my little brother [Spencer] was going to come here. I was a little nervous he might go somewhere else,” Fano said, noting he briefly tried to convince him to come to BYU when he was in the program. “But having my little brother was huge for me in that decision. The hardest thing was leaving my boys at BYU. But at the end of the day, family over everything.”

Regardless of what has happened in Provo since Fano left — with Hill coming in with a new system — he still believes Utah is the best fit for him. At 6-foot-4, 238 points, he believes his body type is probably better suited for Scalley’s defense than Hill’s anyway.

And beyond that, Fano is just comfortable again, ready to contribute almost immediately for Utah’s defense.

“It just goes back to Scalley’s defense,” Fano finished. “Pressure all the time. The guys they recruit at defensive end are more my physique. They are skinny, faster defensive ends. ... I feel good right now.”