2022 NFL Season Set To Feature New Pro Utes
SALT LAKE CITY – With the 2022 NFL Draft in the past and rookie camps getting underway, Utah fans will get to enjoy a slew of new Pro Utes this season after signing nine players to NFL contracts along with mini-camp invitations.
Devin Lloyd, who was taken in the draft, will be joined in the league by teammates Britain Covey (Philadelphia, free agent), Nick Ford (Jacksonville, free agent), Cole Fotheringham (Las Vegas, free agent), Bamidele Olaseni (Las Vegas, free agent), Hauati Pututau (Green Bay, free agent), Nephi Sewell (New Orleans, free agent) and Mika Tafua (Dallas, free agent), while TJ Pledger earned a spot in Arizona's mini-camp.
Lloyd was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round (27th overall) to become Utah's ninth first round selection in program history. The 10-time All-American is the highest-drafted linebacker in Utah history after earning Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year at the end of a stellar final season in Salt Lake City.
He played in 47 games with 32 starts, becoming Utah's 10th consensus All-American in 2021 after earning eight first-team nods. He recorded 43 career tackles for loss to rank fourth in program history, notching at least one tackle for loss in 18 of his final 22 games.
Ford, a three-time All-Pac-12 offensive lineman, will join Lloyd in Florida after playing in 44 career games with 40 starts at Utah. The 2021 Offensive Morris Trophy winner started at virtually every position on the offensive line and was one of just two active FBS players in 2021 to achieve the feat, wrapping up his career with 15 starts at center, 13 at right guard, nine at left guard, two at right tackle and one at left tackle.
Covey, a five-time All-American and All-Pac-12 selection finished his career at Utah as the all-time leader in career punt return yards (1,092), also leaving the Utes ranked in the top-10 in career punt returns (92), receptions (184), all-purpose yards (4,241) and receiving yards (2,011). He led Utah in receiving yards in 2015, 2018 and 2020, playing in 47 career games with 23 starts.
Fotheringham was a mainstay for the Utah offense the last four seasons, playing in 47 career games with 38 starts. Serving as a strong blocker and route runner, the San Clemente, Calif., native recorded 52 receptions for 526 yards (3 TDs), including 17 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2018.
Olaseni came to Utah after earning All-America honors at Garden City Community College as the No. 9 rated JUCO offensive tackle in the country. He played in 21 games at Utah with 11 starts in 2021, earning Sporting News All-America and All-Pac-12 second-team this past season while playing left tackle.
Pututau finished his career at Utah with 57 games played, earning the starting nod in 12. As a solid defensive tackle for the Utes, Pututau recorded 56 total tackles, which included 18 in 2021 with 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and four pass breakups.
Sewell, a two-time All-Pac-12 selection, finished his collegiate career with 44 career games played in FBS football with 37 starts, beginning his career as a safety at Nevada before transitioning to linebacker at Utah. In 2021, he ranked second on the team in total tackles with 89 (7.5 TFL), adding one interception and a forced fumble.
Tafua, the 2021 Pac-12 Defensive Morris Trophy winner, was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection, earning first-team in 2021. He finished his career at Utah having played in 44 career games with 38 starts, leading the Pac-12 in sacks in 2021 (9.5) while leading the defensive line in total tackles (49).
Pledger came to Utah in 2021 after seeing action in 30 career games at the University of Oklahoma. He wrapped up his college career with 44 career games with six career 100-yard rushing games (2 at OU, 4 at Utah in 2021), totaling 1,389 rushing yards (12 TDs) and 1,765 all-purpose yards.