After a two-year absence, pro day returning to Utah football
In 2020, no schools had a pro day due to the pandemic. In 2021, Utah didn’t have a pro day because no players made themselves eligible for the draft. Seventeen Utes will be participating this year.
For the past two years, Utah has not held a pro day, when NFL representatives flock to campus in the spring to evaluate Ute players ahead of the draft.
In 2020, no schools had a pro day due to the pandemic. In 2021, Utah didn’t have a pro day because no players made themselves eligible for the draft.
“There will be no Utes represented this year in the draft,” coach Kyle Whittingham said last March. “But next year you can count on a good crop of players coming out of here.”
Whittingham was right.
On Thursday, pro day returns to the U. — which has multiple NFL prospects.
Headlining the group is consensus All-America linebacker Devin Lloyd, who was the 2021 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., released his latest mock draft Tuesday. Kiper projects Lloyd as the No. 19 overall pick in the first round of the draft to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Here’s a spot to fill Philadelphia’s void at off-ball linebacker. Lloyd was one of the best all-around defenders in college football last season, racking up 111 total tackles, eight sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions and a forced fumble,” Kiper wrote. “He has some juice as a blitzer and can cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game. Lloyd’s 4.66 40-yard dash at the combine means he doesn’t have the straight-line speed of former top-five pick Devin White (a linebacker I’ve compared him to), but I don’t think he should drop past the Eagles.”
Lloyd and fellow linebacker Nephi Sewell participated in the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this month.
Utah lists 17 players attending pro day Thursday: Lloyd; Sewell; wide receiver Britain Covey; safety Vonte Davis; offensive lineman Nick Ford; tight end Cole Fotheringham; wide receiver Theo Howard; snapper Keegan Markgraf; safety Brandon McKinney; defensive tackle Viane Moala; tight end/fullback Ali’i Niumatalolo; offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni; running back T.J. Pledger; defensive tackle Hauati Pututau; defensive end Mika Tafua; defensive tackle Maxs Tupai; and safety/wide receiver Tyrone Young-Smith.
Tight end Brant Kuithe, who decided to forgo the draft and return for another season at Utah, said it was a little weird not to have Covey around for the first day of spring ball Tuesday.
“We just don’t have that little spunk, that little spontaneous guy,” Kuithe said of Covey. “I’m happy for him. I’m excited to see what he does at pro day.”
Covey joined the program in 2015 and became the program’s all-time leader in punt return yardage. In his final game as a Ute, Covey scored the first touchdown of the Rose Bowl, a 97-yard kickoff return in the second quarter against Ohio State.
Whittingham noticed Covey’s absence Tuesday, too.
“Yeah, that’s the nature of college football. You get players that move on every year. You’ve got to replace them,” he said. “Brit’s been here for a while and has been such an integral part of our team. Not having him out here was strange. But we’ve got to move forward.”
On Thursday, Covey and other former Utes will audition in front of NFL representatives at Eccles Field House. They will participate in weight room testing, field testing (40-yard dash, pro shuttle, L-drill, 60-yard shuttle) and position drills.
While no Utes were drafted a year ago, seven Utah players were selected in the 2020 draft.