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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utes in the NFL Draft — Sean Fitzgerald balancing NFL hopes, new fatherhood

Already, 2014 is looking like a banner year for Sean Fitzgerald.

The ex-Ute wideout is hoping to land with an NFL team this year, which is exciting all by itself. But Jan. 16 - that's the date he'll have to remember.

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The day his son, Jet Fitzgerald, was born.

"It's been kind of hectic," Fitzgerald said of balancing fatherhood and training to make the NFL. "He makes everything way fun, but it's a lot different. Things are more serious now, and I'm trying to support a little family here."

It's added motivation for Fitzgerald, 26, who stepped up as the Utes' second-leading receiver last year after injuries riddled the the team's pass-catching threats. After making 32 catches for 471 yards in 2013, he's gotten together enough tape to get some serious looks from NFL teams.

Although Fitzgerald is likely to go undrafted, he's heard good feedback about being signed as a free agent since his Pro Day. While he'll probably need to make a special teams impact to stay on, he wants to also work his way in as a receiver.

"I've always liked to emulate my game after someone like Jordy Nelson," he said. "Solid hands, running good routes. I feel like I compare with him or someone like him at the next level."

Like fellow former teammates Jake Murphy and Karl Williams, Fitzgerald was training with former NFL and Ute John Madsen in Sandy. After walking for graduation - he actually graduated last semester - he moved back to Mission Viejo, Calif., with his wife and son as they wait to see where he might go next week.

Getting closer to the draft brings an uptick in phone calls, but Fitzgerald isn't sure which team will snap him up yet.

"It's kind of getting to crunch time," he said. "I kind of don't know what's going to happen, but I feel good about my chances."

For the weekend, Fitzgerald plans to keep his workout regimen going, preparing for the phone call with good news. During the draft itself, he plans on watching the TV coverage - but not too much.

"I won't be glued to the TV," he said. "But I do have some teammates that are definitely going in the draft, and I'll be wanting to see how they do."

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon



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