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Bradlee Anae Believes Future For Utah Football Is ‘Very Bright’

Utah Utes defensive end Bradlee Anae (6) greets fans after the Utes’ 35-7 win over the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah Utes star defensive lineman finished a historic career as one of the best pass rushers in program history. Now he is getting ready for the upcoming NFL Draft after a fantastic performance in the Senior Bowl.

Also, Anae will participate in the NFL Draft Combine at the end of February in Indianapolis, Indiana before Pro Day at Utah and finally the NFL Draft in Las Vegas at the end of April. His work ethic and talent will certainly have his name floating around NFL Draft war rooms.

With the Utes losing 9 starters on defense from this past season, Anae believes that the 2020 Utah football team will be very good.

The Utah career sacks leader joined the Crimson Corner podcast to discuss his career at Utah, the Senior Bowl, the NFL Draft process and the future of Utah football.

Senior Bowl Performance

Anae joined two other Utah football players in Mobile, Alabama in the Senior Bowl. He was joined by safety Terrell Burgess and linebacker Francis Bernard in the All-Star game and Anae significantly helped his draft stock after a great performance where he had three sacks in the game.

“I think it was a great day, especially when you get a couple of sacks,” Anae said. “I went into the game expecting to do that if not better. Things went well. I stuck to what I knew and absorbed the coaching and was fortunate enough to work with the entire Detroit Lions staff, so that was a great experience overall.”

The Senior Bowl divides the top graduating juniors and seniors in college football into two teams that are coached by NFL coaching staffs. Anae, Burgess and Bernard were on the North team that was coached by Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions staff.

“It was crazy being coached by NFL guys,” Anae mentioned. “It’s a different level and you just want to be a sponge and soak up everything that is being taught to you. I had a lot of one-on-one time with head coach Matt Patricia especially when we were doing d-line drills and one-on-ones. I was just grateful to be there. I wanted to represent the University of Utah and my home country the best that I could.”

Anae and his agent have received some great feedback from scouts after the Senior Bowl but Anae is looking to rise even higher after the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Having me go as a day two guy,” said Anae. “Some guys have me going day one as well but depending on what I do at the combine will solidify that. The goal is to make it to Las Vegas.”

Future Is Bright At Utah

It’s difficult for a program to lose nine starters on a defense that ranked among the best in the country. But, Anae feels that the program is in a good place especially on the defensive line.

“The defensive line is going to be phenomenal,” Anae stated. “We had two guys who rotated last season with Leki (Fotu) and John (Penisini). There were basically four guys on the interior line that could have started this year. We have those two guys coming back in Hauati Pututau, Viane Moala and also can’t forget Pita Tonga. Those three are veteran Pac-12 defensive lineman that have played a significant amount of reps over the course of their time at Utah. They are going to be the guys to anchor the defensive line and the whole defense this year in my opinion. The future at Utah football is very bright.”

Anae was an All-American and All-Pac-12 first team selection after a great career where he passed Hunter Dimick as the all-time career sacks leader in Utah football history. The star pass rusher from Hawaii wouldn’t change a thing from his time as a Ute, even after losing their last two games of the 2019 season in the Pac-12 Championship game and the Alamo Bowl.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Anae. “When you are in the championship game there has to be a loser. Things didn’t play out how we wanted it to but all you can do is look forward to the next big thing and that is the 2020 Utah football team. The future is very bright and the program is in great hands, not a lot of teams can say that.”

Most importantly, Anae was grateful for head coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff for taking a chance on Anae.

“I was just so grateful to play for coach Kyle (Whittingham),” Anae added. “He took a chance on a kid from the island. His ability to take kids and develop them is phenomenal.”

Utah has done a great job of reloading talent in the last recruiting class but Anae made a case as to why Utah stands out above the rest.

“If your goal is to play at the next level Utah is the place to be,” Anae said. “If you want to be developed into an NFL talent, this is the place to be. They push you to be your best but most importantly the coaches really love you. You will meet some great guys along the way and make some lifelong friends. Salt Lake City is one of the most beautiful places in the world and Utah in general is just a beautiful place to be.”

Anae will continue to work out and prepare for the NFL Draft Combine.

The Crimson Corner podcast is the one-stop for all things University of Utah Athletics hosted by Utah insider Trevor Allen. Ute fans will find interviews with current players, coaches, and staff alongside expert analysis of every game, story and angle coming out of the University of Utah.

You can download and listen to the podcast, here.