Six former Utes to chase NFL dreams as 2018 free agents
(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah's Filipo Mokofisi and Lowell Lotulelei pose for a portrait at the Eccles Football Center Tuesday, November 21, 2017.
While former Utes defensive end Kylie Fitts heard his name called by the Chicago Bears during the final day of the NFL draft on Saturday, some of his former teammates will try to make their pro dreams a reality as undrafted free agents.
Former Utah defensive linemen Filipo Mokofisi (Green Bay Packers) and Lowell Lotulelei (Denver Broncos), offensive lineman Salesi Uhatafe (Atlanta Falcons) and quarterback Troy Williams (Seattle Seahawks), signed undrafted free-agent deals.
Defensive back Kenric Young received an invite to minicamp with the Indianapolis Colts. Defensive back and All-Pac-12 punt returner Boobie Hobbs reached an agreement with the New York Jets, but it was unclear whether he signed as a free agent or received a minicamp invitation.
The Utes’ leading receiver this past season, Darren Carrington II, had not signed as a free agent as of Sunday evening. Carrington played through a foot injury the final month of the regular season and the bowl game. That injury hampered his pre-draft workouts, including the NFL Combine.
Lotulelei’s addition will give the Broncos six former Utes as he joins Garett Bolles, Devontae Booker, J.J. Dielman, Tim Patrick and Jeremiah Poutasi. A four-time all-conference selection with the Utes and a former Bingham High standout, Lotulelei is the younger brother of former Utes All-American defensive lineman and current member of the Buffalo Bills Star Lotulelei.
Williams returns to the Pacific Northwest where he started his collegiate career at the University of Washington prior to spending a year at Santa Monica College and then transferring to Utah for his final two seasons. Williams, who was beaten out for the starting job by Tyler Huntley as a senior, went 10-6 as a starting quarterback for the Utes and ranks 14th in school history in career passing yards (3,569).
Uhatafe’s signing means that all five starting offensive linemen from the 2016 team — including Isaac Asiata, Sam Tevi, Bolles and Dielman — have gone on to the NFL as either draft picks or free agents. Last week, Utes coach Kyle Whittingham pointed to assistant head coach/offensive line coach Jim Harding as the reason for that unit’s success in sending players in the NFL.
“I think it speaks to the coaching ability of Jim Harding and his ability to develop players and get the most out of them,” Whittingham said. “It also speaks to our recruiting, that we’re targeting the right guys that have the raw material that we’re looking for. It’s also a good recruiting tool when you can say hey our entire starting line ended up [in the NFL].”