Utah's defense, which already was faced with the task of replacing five players who were regulars in the starting rotation, now has the unpleasant task of replacing two underclassmen who are bolting for the NFL.
Utah defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) announced Wednesday he is turning pro, joining corner back Brandon Burton in heading for the NFL a year early.
Siliga said in a statement he felt this was the best time for him physically and mentally to turn pro.
"This was not an easy decision or one in which I made without a lot of thought and prayer," he said in the statement, in which he also thanked the coaching staff. "As much as I look forward to my professional career, I look forward to continuing being a member of the Utes family."
Siliga is a two-time honorable mention all-conference tackle and has played in 37 of 39 games with 21 starts since he was a freshman. He finished the 2010 season with 28.5 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
While Burton is projected to be picked anytime from late in the first round to the third round, Siliga is unlikely to get drafted, according to many projections.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham often comments on players who leave early, wishing them luck and so forth. But he isn't commenting on Siliga's decision, school officials said.