Breakdown of NFL Players from Utah

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There have been 150 players who attended a Utah high school that have played in the NFL. I decided to look at where every recruit played high school and college football. I also pulled their star rating if available from 247Sports (rankings for players from the state of Utah date back to the 2002 class). First, let’s take a look at the full list.

All NFL Players from Utah High Schools

Player Position NFL Team(s) From To High School College Additional College Recruiting Ranking
Player Position NFL Team(s) From To High School College Additional College Recruiting Ranking
Dalton Schultz TE DAL 2018 2018 Bingham Stanford 4-star
Tre'von Johnson LB LAC 2018 2018 Hunter Weber State N/A
Luke Falk QB TEN,MIA 2018 2018 Logan Washington State 2-star
Harvey Langi ILB NWE 2017 2017 Bingham Utah BYU 4-star
Fish Smithson S WAS 2017 2017 Highland Kansas N/A
Marcus Kemp WR KAN 2017 2018 Layton Hawaii 2-star
Isaac Asiata OG MIA 2017 2018 Spanish Fork Utah 3-star
Bronson Kaufusi DE BAL,NYJ 2017 2018 Timpview BYU 4-star
Pita Taumoepenu OLB SFO 2017 2018 Timpview Utah 2-star
Garett Bolles OT DEN 2017 2018 Westlake Utah 4-star
James Cowser LB OAK 2016 2017 Davis Southern Utah N/A
Nick Vigil ILB CIN 2016 2018 Fremont Utah State 3-star
Tyler Larsen C CAR 2016 2018 Jordan Utah State 2-star
D.J. Tialavea TE ATL 2016 2016 West Jordan Utah State N/A
Zach Vigil ILB MIA,WAS 2015 2018 Clearfield Utah State N/A
Nate Orchard OLB CLE,BUF,KAN 2015 2018 Highland Utah 3-star
Jordan Devey T NWE,SFO,KAN 2014 2018 American Fork Memphis 2-star
Bojay Filimoeatu LB OAK 2014 2014 Granger Utah State 3-star
Tenny Palepoi DT SDG,LAC 2014 2017 Skyline Utah 3-star
Xavier Su'a-Filo OG HOU,DAL 2014 2018 Timpview UCLA 4-star
Patrick Scales LS BAL,CHI 2014 2018 Weber Utah State N/A
Star Lotulelei DT CAR,BUF 2013 2018 Bingham Utah 3-star
Sealver Siliga DT DEN,NWE,TAM,SEA 2012 2017 Copper Hills Utah 3-star
Stanley Havili RB PHI,IND,SEA 2012 2014 Cottonwood USC 3-star
Matt Asiata FB MIN 2012 2016 Hunter Utah 3-star
Tony Bergstrom OT OAK,HOU,WAS,BAL 2012 2018 Skyline Utah 3-star
Dallas Reynolds G PHI,NYG 2012 2015 Timpview BYU 3-star
Harvey Unga RB CHI 2012 2012 Timpview BYU 2-star
Will Tukuafu DT SFO,SEA 2011 2016 East Oregon 2-star
Stephen Paea DT CHI,WAS,CLE,DAL 2011 2017 Timpview Oregon State 3-star
Zane Beadles T DEN,JAX,SFO,ATL 2010 2018 Hillcrest Utah 2-star
Ray Feinga G MIA 2010 2010 Hunter BYU 3-star
Marcus Mailei RB NOR 2009 2009 Highland Weber State N/A
C.J. Ah You DE STL 2009 2011 Lone Peak BYU Oklahoma 4-star
Shawn Murphy T TAM 2009 2009 Lone Peak Utah State N/A
Paul Kruger DE BAL,CLE,NOR 2009 2016 Timpanogos Utah 2-star
Bryan Kehl LB NYG,STL,WAS,KAN 2008 2013 Brighton BYU 2-star
David Hale G BAL 2008 2009 Fremont Weber State N/A
Naufahu Tahi RB MIN 2007 2010 Granger BYU N/A
Stewart Bradley LB PHI,ARI 2007 2012 Highland Nebraska N/A
Daniel Coats TE CIN,DEN 2007 2010 Northridge BYU 3-star
Haloti Ngata DT BAL,DET,PHI 2006 2018 Highland Oregon 5-star
Scott Young G PHI,CLE 2006 2008 Hillcrest BYU 4-star
John Madsen WR OAK 2006 2008 Hunter Utah N/A
Ryon Bingham DT SDG 2005 2008 Alta Nebraska N/A
Sione Pouha DT NYJ 2005 2012 East Utah N/A
Josh Savage DE TAM,ATL,TEN,NOR 2004 2008 Hillcrest Utah N/A
Chris Cooley TE WAS 2004 2012 James Logan Utah State N/A
Colby Bockwoldt LB NOR,TEN,CLE 2004 2007 Northridge BYU N/A
Kirk Chambers T CLE,BUF,ATL 2004 2011 Provo Stanford N/A
Kevin Curtis WR STL,PHI,MIA 2003 2010 Bingham Utah State N/A
Mason Unck LB CLE 2003 2006 Bonneville Arizona State N/A
Reno Mahe RB PHI 2003 2007 Brighton BYU N/A
Teag Whiting T ARI 2002 2002 Brighton BYU N/A
Doug Jolley TE OAK,NYJ,TAM 2002 2006 Dixie BYU N/A
Anton Palepoi DE SEA,ARI,DEN 2002 2005 Hunter UNLV N/A
Andre Dyson DB TEN,SEA,NYJ 2001 2007 Clearfield Utah N/A
Ryan Prince TE JAX 2001 2001 Davis Weber State N/A
Andy Bowers DE ARI 2001 2001 Hillcrest Utah N/A
Junior Ioane DT OAK,HOU 2001 2005 North Sanpete Arizona State N/A
Barry Sims T-G OAK,SFO 1999 2010 Park City Utah State Utah N/A
Kevin Dyson WR TEN,CAR 1998 2003 Clearfield Utah N/A
Derek Smith LB WAS,SFO,MIA,SDG 1997 2008 American Fork Arizona State N/A
Kerry Hicks DE KAN 1997 1997 Highland Colorado N/A
Chad Lewis TE PHI,STL 1997 2005 Orem BYU N/A
Lance Scott C NYG 1997 1998 Taylorsville Utah N/A
Greg Clark TE SFO 1997 2000 Viewmont Stanford N/A
Mark Harris WR SFO 1996 1999 Box Elder Southern Utah Stanford N/A
Jed DeVries T CLE 1995 1995 Weber Utah State N/A
Travis Hall DT-DE ATL,SFO 1995 2005 West Jordan BYU N/A
Brant Boyer LB MIA,JAX,CLE 1994 2003 North Summitt Arizona N/A
Scott Brumfield G-T CIN 1993 1997 Spanish Fork BYU N/A
Alfred Pupunu TE SDG,NYG,DET,KAN 1992 2000 South Weber State N/A
Craig Patterson DE-NT PHO 1991 1991 Emery Co. BYU N/A
Scott Mitchell QB MIA,DET,BAL,CIN 1991 2001 Springville Utah N/A
Eric Bergeson DB ATL 1990 1990 Timpview BYU N/A
Steve Kaufusi DE-DT PHI 1989 1990 South BYU N/A
Bruce Hansen RB NWE 1987 1987 American Fork BYU N/A
Willie Beecher K MIA 1987 1987 James Logan Utah State N/A
Russell Griffith P SEA 1987 1987 Judge Memorial Utah State Weber State N/A
Cary Whittingham LB RAM 1987 1987 Provo BYU N/A
Kyle Whittingham LB RAM 1987 1987 Provo BYU N/A
Mickey Sutton DB RAM,BUF,GNB 1986 1990 James Logan Montana N/A
Mike Hamby DE BUF 1986 1986 Lehi Utah State N/A
Kyle Morrell DB MIN 1986 1986 Viewmont BYU N/A
Hal Garner LB BUF 1985 1991 James Logan Utah State N/A
Maurice Turner RB MIN,NYJ,GNB 1984 1987 Layton Utah State N/A
Shawn Miller DE-NT-DT RAM 1984 1989 Weber Utah State N/A
Chuck Ehin NT-DE-LB SDG 1983 1987 Layton BYU N/A
Gary Padjen LB BAL,IND 1982 1987 Kearns Arizona State N/A
Jim McMahon QB CHI,SDG,PHI,MIN,ARI,GNB 1982 1996 Roy BYU N/A
Steve Clark G-NT MIA 1982 1985 Skyline Utah N/A
Mat Mendenhall DE WAS 1981 1982 East BYU N/A
Rick Parros RB DEN,SEA 1981 1987 Granite Utah State N/A
Glen Redd LB NOR,IND 1981 1986 Ogden BYU N/A
Art Plunkett T STL,NWE 1981 1987 Skyline UNLV N/A
Rulon Jones DE DEN 1980 1988 Weber Utah State N/A
Dave Parkin DB DET 1979 1979 Highland Utah State N/A
Bruce Hardy TE-WR-QB MIA 1978 1989 Bingham Arizona State N/A
Gifford Nielsen QB HOU 1978 1983 Provo BYU N/A
Len Walterscheid DB CHI,BUF 1977 1984 Grand Southern Utah N/A
Mark Koncar T GNB,HOU 1976 1982 Murray Colorado N/A
Orrin Olsen C KAN 1976 1976 Orem BYU N/A
Ron Rydalch DT CHI 1975 1980 Tooele Utah N/A
Golden Richards WR DAL,CHI 1973 1979 Granite Hawaii BYU N/A
Pete Van Valkenberg RB BUF,CHI,GNB 1973 1974 Hillcrest BYU N/A
Gordon Jolley G-T DET,SEA 1972 1977 Granite Utah N/A
Marv Bateman P DAL,BUF 1972 1977 Highland Utah N/A
Jeff Lyman LB BUF,STL 1972 1972 Skyline BYU N/A
Phil Olsen DT-C RAM,DEN 1971 1976 James Logan Utah State N/A
Dave Smith RB SDG 1970 1970 Davis Utah N/A
Phil Tuckett WR SDG 1968 1968 Olympus Weber State N/A
Jack Gehrke WR KAN,CIN,DEN 1968 1971 South Utah N/A
Ron McCall LB SDG 1967 1968 Clearfield Utah State Weber State N/A
Lou Andrus LB DEN 1967 1967 Granite BYU N/A
Dick Leeuwenburg T CHI 1965 1965 Olympus Stanford N/A
Monk Bailey DB STL 1964 1965 Moab Utah N/A
Merlin Olsen DT RAM 1962 1976 James Logan Utah State N/A
Clyde Brock T DAL,SFO 1962 1963 Ogden Utah State N/A
Jack Hill WR-K DEN 1961 1961 Davis Utah State N/A
Terry Nofsinger QB PIT,STL,ATL 1961 1967 South Utah N/A
Ken Petersen G MIN 1961 1961 South Utah N/A
Nyle McFarlane HB OAK 1960 1960 Jordan BYU N/A
Dick Felt DB NYT,BOS 1960 1966 Lehi BYU N/A
Merrill Douglas FB-HB CHI,DAL,PHI 1958 1962 Olympus Utah N/A
Keever Jankovich LB-DE DTX,CRD 1952 1953 Tooele Utah Pacific N/A
Rex Berry DB-HB SFO 1951 1956 Carbon BYU N/A
Barney Hafen DE-E DET 1949 1950 Dixie Utah N/A
Bob Summerhays LB-FB GNB 1949 1951 East Army Utah N/A
Ralph Olsen DE GNB 1949 1949 West Jordan Utah N/A
Frank Nelson B BOS,NYY 1948 1949 Bingham Utah N/A
Frank Williams FB-LB NYG 1948 1948 Davis Utah State N/A
Reed Nilsen C DET 1947 1947 Provo BYU N/A
Joe Davis E-DE BDA 1946 1946 Bountiful USC N/A
Mac Speedie E CLE 1946 1952 South Utah N/A
Garth Chamberlain G PIT 1945 1945 Jordan BYU N/A
Bob Sneddon DB-HB-WB WAS,DET,LAD 1944 1946 Ogden Weber State St. Mary's (CA) N/A
Glen Sorenson G GNB 1943 1945 West Jordan Utah State N/A
Joe Aguirre E WAS,LAD 1941 1949 Ogden St. Mary's (CA) N/A
Fred Gehrke HB RAM,CRD,SFO 1940 1950 South Utah N/A
Barney McGarry G RAM 1939 1942 Park City Utah N/A
Paul McDonough E PIT,RAM 1938 1941 East Utah N/A
Kent Ryan HB DET 1938 1940 James Logan Utah State N/A
Willie Wilkin T WAS,CHR 1938 1946 Springville St. Mary's (CA) N/A
Elmer Ward C DET 1935 1935 Bingham Utah State N/A
Burle Robison E-C PHI 1935 1935 Provo BYU N/A
Aldo Richins WB DET 1935 1935 Salt Lake City Utah N/A
Frank Christensen B-T DET 1934 1937 Granite Utah N/A
Jack Johnson T DET 1934 1940 Grantsville Utah N/A
John Dibb T TOR 1930 1930 Jordan Army N/A
Ted Bucklin FB-G CRD,NYG 1927 1931 James Logan Idaho N/A
Milt Romney B RAC,CHI 1923 1928 East Utah Chicago N/A

All Utah NFL Players by College

College Number of Players
College Number of Players
Utah 44
BYU 40
Utah State 29
Weber State 9
Stanford 5
Arizona State 5
Southern Utah 3
St. Mary's (CA) 3
Hawaii 2
USC 2
Oregon 2
Nebraska 2
UNLV 2
Colorado 2
Army 2
Washington State 1
Kansas 1
Memphis 1
UCLA 1
Oregon State 1
Arizona 1
Montana 1
Idaho 1
Oklahoma 1
Pacific 1
Chicago 1

Utah high school players that played in the NFL attended 26 different colleges. Local schools claimed the top four spots. Those were the Utah Utes (44), BYU Cougars (40), Utah State Aggies (29), and Weber State Wildcats (9). The Stanford Cardinal (5) had the most players for a school outside of the Beehive State. My biggest takeaway from these results is that despite BYU’s dominance in the 1980s, Utah still has produced more NFL players. Another interesting stat is that players who went to Utah had a longer average NFL career (3.7 years) compared to BYU (2.5 years) or Utah State (3.1 years). One conclusion that many may draw from these data is that staying home will better prepare a player for the NFL than leaving the state. This however is not a conclusion we can draw from these numbers. The reason is the local schools recruit the state of Utah far more heavily than schools from outside the state. To determine which school best prepares a player for the NFL, we would need the rate that a school produces NFL players from Utah, meaning we would need to take the number of NFL players from Utah divided by the total number of players from Utah who attended that school. Getting the total number of players from Utah who attended a school is beyond the scope of this article and would require digging through about 100 years of football records for 26 schools.

While this is a nice reference to see all of the players that made the NFL from Utah, it is skews the rankings due to players that played many years ago. Let’s now break down the data from players that entered the NFL in 2000 or later. This will cover all the players in the recruiting era and a few that predated recruiting rankings.

Utah NFL Players by College since 2000

College Number of Players
College Number of Players
Utah 17
BYU 14
Utah State 9
Weber State 4
Stanford 2
Arizona State 2
Oregon 2
Nebraska 2
Southern Utah 1
Hawaii 1
USC 1
UNLV 1
Washington State 1
Kansas 1
Memphis 1
UCLA 1
Oregon State 1
Oklahoma 1

We can see that again Utah leads the way with NFL players with 17, followed by BYU (14), Utah State (9), and Weber State (4). For the same reason mentioned above, this does not mean that the local schools are better at putting local players into the NFL. We would again need to look at the rate to draw that conclusion. Most out-of-state schools have only brought in a handful of players from the Beehive State, rather than the hundreds that have attended an in-state school.

Because 2002 was the first class to feature recruiting ranking for the state of Utah, the 2006 NFL Draft is the first draft class where a player has the potential to have a recruiting ranking (John Madsen predated high school rankings). If we look at players that had the potential to have a recruiting ranking, we see that 32/43 were at least a 2-star recruit or higher (the other 11 who did not have a recruiting ranking were presumably 0 or 1 star recruits). Below is a breakdown of 43 NFL players by recruiting ranking in the recruiting era.

Star Ranking of Utah NFL Players

Recruiting Rank Number of Players
Recruiting Rank Number of Players
5-star 1
4-star 7
3-star 14
2-star 10
No Ranking 11

Stars do not matter! I am sure seeing this breakdown, that is your first thought given that 24/32 were 2- or 3-star recruits. Only one was a 5-star recruit, and only seven were 4-star recruits. Well, again this is where the rate comes in. The state of Utah has only produced two 5-star recruits since 2002: Haloti Ngata (2002) and Osa Masina (2016). Ngata made the NFL and Masina played as a true freshman at USC before legal trouble ended his college career. While the sample size is incredibly limited, 5-star recruits have a 50% chance to make the NFL from Utah. There have been only 23 4-star recruits to leave college prior to the 2018 season, so almost one-third of four-star recruits made the NFL (7/23). The number of 2- and 3-star recruits totals well over 100 for the same period (I do not have the exact number), meaning the chances of a 2- or 3-star recruit making the NFL is less than 5%.

I just threw a lot of numbers at you. If you are still reading by this point, your head might be spinning a little, so let’s put these numbers into context. The important takeaway for Utah fans is that Utah is better at putting players into the NFL than BYU or Utah State. Utah has put more local players in the NFL than any other school. As I stated, part of that is due to the larger number of local players that attend Utah compared to out-of-state schools. It is interesting to see that all other Pac-12 teams combined only put 10 Utah players in the NFL combined, with the Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, and Stanford Cardinal tied for the most with two apiece. The USC Trojans are likely to join this group with Porter Gustin likely to get drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft, the UCLA Bruins could also join the group with Andre James, and Stanford has the chance to take the lead if Brandon Fanaika makes the NFL. The state of Utah has produced 152 NFL players dating back to 1923, and there will certainly be many more with all of the talented players that the state of Utah produces every year.

Comments

Very Interesting

Thanks for researching and writing this piece.

kept waiting for the punch line but it never came

perhaps, with such small sample sizes, simply comparing those athletes who stayed in-state v those who left?

since P5 schools aren’t raiding the state for below 3 stars, you can’t really come to conclusions on those kids. in the same vein, we’ve seen that the blue chip talent hasn’t seemed to give more than the obligatory glance at staying in state.

it’s hard to come to any conclusions when the data sets are so dissimilar.

Gionni Paul still an animal!

Go Utes go Stallions

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