UTAH UTES

Utah Football Players That Could Possibly Leave Program During Off-Season

Dec 21, 2020, 3:08 PM
Devin Lloyd - Utah Utes...
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A lot of Utah football players have big decisions to make during the off-season.

They will need to decide whether or not they want to return for the 2021 season. The seniors could be done and not return for their “super senior” season or they could try and make an NFL roster or start with life after football.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all eligibility in college football was frozen. After Utah’s win over Washington State in their regular season finale, head coach Kyle Whittingham said that he and his staff will have conversations with his seniors and juniors that might want to go to the NFL over the next couple of days. The team will have a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, December 22.

“That’s next on our agenda is we have a team meeting on Tuesday night,” Whittingham said. “In the meantime, everyone will travel to their destinations and finally get a chance to be back with your families and get a break. That’s the next order of business, we have I believe it’s 14 seniors, and who all have the option to come back and be super seniors, I guess you’d call them. We’ll try to get things hashed out and decide who’s going to be with us, who’s not, and then go from there. We’re excited about this team that’s coming back. I mean, everybody’s eligibility is frozen. So nobody advances a year. So when you add this class that we just signed a few days ago to what we got, we’re pretty optimistic about the future.”

Devin Lloyd, Linebacker

Lloyd showed us this season that he is an NFL linebacker. It’s just a matter of whether or not he wants to make the jump now or after the 2021 season. If Lloyd stayed for the 2021 season, he would certainly shoot up the draft boards but there is a chance that he could get drafted in the upcoming draft. That’s the hard part of this decision. After the win over Washington State, Lloyd was asked if he had given the NFL Draft any thought and if he would leave after this season and enter the draft.

“I’ve given it a little thought but not too much because my main focus was on the season so I’ll make a decision within the next coming weeks. But more than anything, I’m just ready to go celebrate the win with my team,” said Lloyd.

Looking at the current mock drafts, Lloyd is not mentioned in any of them but none of them have a seven-round mock draft and most of them have just a first round mock draft. There was a couple that did three rounds but Lloyd was not mentioned. That doesn’t mean that the Utah linebacker couldn’t work his way up the draft board and become a day two prospect (second or third round).

Jake Bentley, Quarterback

Bentley certainly did not improve his draft stock after the 2020 season. He was benched towards the end of the first half against Washington State. This would be a decision to not return due to the additions at quarterback the Utes picked up over the weekend with Texas transfer Ja’Quinden Jackson and Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer.

It’s apparent that the writing is on the wall for Bentley after Utah picked up the two transfer QB’s that the South Carolina transfer is not in the Utes’ cards in 2021.

Mika Tafua, Defensive End

I have a hard time thinking that Mika Tafua would skip his super junior season and make a leap for the NFL. That’s not to say that Tafua is not an NFL pass rusher, just not right now. He is eligible to leave and enter the NFL Draft if that is what he chooses to do but it seems unlikely.

Brant Kuithe, Tight End

The highest expectations set for a player on offense going into 2020 was for Brant Kuithe. The breakout 2019 player showed how dynamic of a playmaker he could be and the high potential. Unfortunately, he didn’t lead the Utes in receiving yards in 2020 and didn’t even score a touchdown. That’s not because of his lack of ability. He just wasn’t used within the offense like we all expected he would be utilized.

Kuithe will be an NFL player but give him a full 12-14 game schedule and his stock will rise.

Seniors On Roster

The Utes have 17 players on the roster that are seniors. They all have the option to return next season and remain seniors. Utah has 21 players on the roster that are juniors, which would make them eligible to enter the upcoming NFL Draft. I don’t see many of them skipping their second junior season and going to the NFL Draft other than Tafua and Kuithe.

Here are the 17 seniors that have a decision to make during the off-season.

  • London Bartholomew, Offensive Lineman
  • Jake Bentley, Quarterback
  • Vonte Davis, Safety
  • Samuelu Elisaia, Linebacker
  • Mufi Hill-Hunt, Tight End
  • Drew Lisk, Quarterback
  • Keegan Markgraf, Long Snapper
  • Viane Moala, Defensive Tackle
  • Samson Nacua, Wide Receiver
  • Ali’i Niumatalolo, Tight End
  • Bamidele Olaseni, Offensive Lineman
  • Hauati Pututau, Defensive Tackle
  • Aaron Tapusoa, Running Back
  • Pita Tonga, Defensive Tackle
  • Maxs Tupai, Defensive End
  • Orlando Umana, Offensive Lineman
  • Tyrone Young-Smith, Wide Receiver

Juniors On Roster

Just to list them for reference, these are the Utah players that can skip their super junior year and enter the NFL Draft.

  • Moroni Anae, Linebacker
  • Stone Azarcon, Safety
  • Britain Covey, Wide Receiver
  • Solomon Enis, Wide Receiver
  • Nick Ford, Offensive Lineman
  • Cole Fotheringham, Tight End
  • Dakota Hansen, Safety
  • R.J. Hubert, Safety
  • Devin Kaufusi, Defensive Lineman
  • Dalton Kincaid, Tight End
  • Brant Kuithe, Tight End
  • Devin Lloyd, Linebacker
  • Joe Ludwig, Tight End
  • Jeremy Mercier, Linebacker
  • Pierre Moudourou, Wide Receiver
  • Noah Rodriguez-Trammell
  • Nephi Sewell, Linebacker
  • Dylan Slavens, Wide Receiver
  • Skyler Southam, Kicker
  • Mika Tafua, Defensive End
  • Bryan Thompson, Wide Receiver

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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Utah Football Players That Could Possibly Leave Program During Off-Season