HONOLULU — Pending final paperwork, new Hawaii football coach Timmy Chang has his right-hand man in place in Thomas Sheffield, a special teams instructor whom Chang coached alongside at Nevada for two seasons.

Sheffield, who lives by the motto “Ride or Die,” will be UH’s associate head coach, special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Sheffield tweeted the news himself on Wednesday, and Spectrum News was able to confirm it.

What You Need To Know

  • Thomas Sheffield, the special teams coordinator at Nevada the last two seasons, has joined Timmy Chang's new Hawaii staff as associate head coach and special teams coordinator, pending final paperwork

  • Sheffield is known for his passionate coaching style and "Ride or Die" mantra

  • A holdover member of Todd Graham's coaching staff, Jacob Yoro, was retained and promoted to defensive coordinator, UH officially announced Wednesday

  • UH also officially announced Chris Brown as inside linebackers/defensive ends coach, Roman Sapolu as offensive line coach and Keiki Misipeka as running backs coach.

“When one of your best friends gets an opportunity to lead his alma mater and ask you to come with him it’s hard to say no,” Sheffield wrote in part.

Sheffield earned praise for his passionate coaching style as Nevada’s special teams coordinator under Jay Norvell for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. When Norvell took the Colorado State job following the 2021 season, Sheffield and Chang were among those who followed.

UH did not have a designated special teams coordinator in 2021 under Todd Graham; Graham himself filled that role.

Meanwhile, Jacob Yoro, who had previously been reported as being retained as a holdover member of Todd Graham’s staff, was promoted to defensive coordinator and will keep his duties as linebackers coach, UH announced Wednesday.

"I'm absolutely humbled and honored that Coach Chang gave me this opportunity," Yoro said on a media call. "It's an opportunity I don't take lightly. It's an opportunity that I've been preparing myself for for a long time."

Abraham Elimimian, another holdover, will coach the cornerbacks, his natural position, after coaching running backs in 2021. And Kody Cooke and Colin Schaffer remained strength and conditioning coach and video coordinator, respectively.

Chang was sworn in as UH’s new head coach last weekend, following considerable controversy with the coaching search process.

Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray did a feature on Sheffield in October, highlighting Sheffield’s fervor and decision to get a “Ride or Die” skull tattoo across his chest.

Special teams proved crucial in Nevada’s 34-17 win over Hawaii in Reno on Oct. 16, as the Wolf Pack blocked a punt and recovered a muffed punt by the Rainbow Warriors.

“The Hawaii faithful will get everything we have as a coaching staff. We will work day and night as we are right now to make the island proud. Can’t wait to get to the island & meet all the great people of Hawaii. Aloha! RideOrDie!” Sheffield wrote to complete his tweet. 

Chang responded, "Ride or Die! With Aloha" in his own tweet.

UH could make his announcement official on Thursday. 

New assistant coaches officially announced by UH on Wednesday were:

  • Chris Brown, the former UH defensive end/linebacker and former linebackers/strength coach at prep powerhouse Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas. He will coach inside linebackers and defensive ends.
  • Roman Sapolu, the offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Fresno State and the son of former UH football great Jesse Sapolu. He will coach the offensive line.
  • Keiki Misipeka, the former UH running back, who formerly coached at Missouri Southern State and Delaware State. He will coach running backs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original story was updated with quotes from Yoro and new details about the assistant coaching staff. (Jan. 26, 2022)