Nick Ford has been through a lot in his life outside of football. A brother who died in 2019 after battling a lifelong disease. The death of two teammates within less than a year. Dealing with depression and anxiety in the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s why he so valiantly tries to protect those around him in myriad ways.
Now he’ll try furthering that endeavor by foregoing his final year of eligibility at the University of Utah and declare for the NFL draft after the 2021 season concludes.
“It’s a hard choice,” Ford told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I just have a lot of responsibilities in life. ... I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot here, and I know there’s a lot I can accomplish right now as a professional.”
Ford has been one of the most impactful and productive offensive linemen for the Utes in his tenure. He’s started 39 of the 43 games he’s played, and earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors in 2020 and 2021. He’s played multiple positions, from center to left tackle to right guard.
Ford is the latest Utes football player to declare for the draft. Britain Covey, T.J. Pledger, Cole Fotheringham, Nephi Sewell and Mika Tafua have all publicly announced they are not returning for another year at Utah. Tafua did so late Monday night on his Instagram account.
“The last few years have been the best of my life,” Tafua’s message said. “I am grateful for the constant support of my family, and all of the relationships I’ve built while at Utah. My teammates and coaches will be family forever.”
While Devin Lloyd hasn’t publicly addressed his potential departure and declaration for the draft, he did accept an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl.
Other Utes, though, are still deciding on their futures as the Rose Bowl looms. Those players are Tavion Thomas, Dalton Kincaid and Brant Kuithe.
Kincaid told The Tribune that he hasn’t thought much about football after the Rose Bowl. He said he won’t make his decision until after that, but it has crept into this mind from time to time.
“It’s definitely in the back of your head the whole time,” Kincaid said. “For me, I’ve tried to just tuck it away the whole year. But it does kind of creep up every now and then and pops in your head.