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The NFL draft can wait. Bring on Ute football

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Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd pushes Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave out of bounds. Lloyd is a second-team preseason All-American.

Utah Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd (0) pushes Oregon State Beavers tight end Luke Musgrave (88) out of bounds after a catch and run as Utah and Oregon State play a college football game at Rice Eccles stadium in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. Utah won 30-24.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

This article was first published as the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

Usually during the week of the National Football League draft, several Utah players are waiting for their names to be called. Last year, seven Utes were taken in the draft. 

But this year, all of Utah’s potential NFL players, like linebacker Devin Lloyd and center Nick Ford, decided to return for another season of college football. 

That’s why the Utes aren’t expected to have any draft picks in 2021. 

That’s also the reason why the U. didn’t hold pro day this year. 

But maybe this is a time to recognize Utah’s recent history of success in the NFL draft. The Utes have seen 26 players selected since 2015 — tied with Washington for the most in the Pac-12 during that span.

While Utah won’t be represented in the 2021 draft, coach Kyle Whittingham is optimistic about what the players returning to Utah for next season can accomplish. He’s also optimistic about what will happen for the Utes in the 2022 draft. 

“... We don’t have anybody, not one player, that has made himself eligible for the draft. This year, with the super seniors, they had to make the declaration weeks ago whether or not they’d enter the draft or come back,” he said. “But everybody opted to stay here, underclassmen as well. We had several players that will be juniors in eligibility this fall that could have opted to come out. There will be no Utes represented this year in the draft. But next year you can count on a good crop of players coming out of here.”

Numbers game

26: Draft picks from the University of Utah since 2015, tied for the most in the Pac-12 with Washington.

26: Games started by center Nick Ford, the most on Utah’s offensive line.

192-144-53: Record posted by Utah soccer coach Rich Manning in 19 years at the helm. 

From the archives

Extra points

  • Smith’s hire seen as one of the best in college basketball this year (Deseret News)
  • Utah soccer coach Rich Manning steps down (Deseret News)
  • Utah’s O-line depth (Deseret News)
  • How Alex Smith and the Utes transformed college football (Deseret News)
  • Devin Lloyd rated a top-10 talent in college football (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

In 2004 Utah should have been national champs, but the big boys of college football wasn’t about to let that happen again after BYU won it. In fact, they are still trying to keep any team not in a P5 conference from ever winning it. They have had to make it possible but HIGHLY unlikely for a non-P5 school to win the national championship. There is simply too much money involved!

— water rocket

Gosh dang it, here I go again getting my hopes up that we are gonna see a balanced, creative offense, not one that repeatedly runs against a loaded box on obvious run downs and passes on obvious passing 3rd down plays!

— UteinIdaho

Up next

April 30 | 5 p.m. | Softball | vs. UCLA | @Salt Lake City

April 30 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona

May 1 | 2 p.m. | Softball | vs. UCLA | @Salt Lake City

May 1 | 7 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona

May 2 | Noon | Softball | vs. UCLA | @Salt Lake City

May 2 | Noon | Baseball | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona