by Daniel Olsen
Another NFL Draft has come and gone, but it remains relevant long after Mr. Irrelevant is drafted. Braxton Jones of SUU was the only Utah high school football player to be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Other Utah college players like Deven Thompkins of USU and Tyler Allgeier of BYU came out of Florida and California respectively. Devin Lloyd of Utah also came out of California.
Manti High School product Derek Wright (USU) signed a UFA contract with the Carolina Panthers. Other former Utah high school players like Britain Covey (Timpview), Samson Nacua (Timpview), Jaylen Warren (East), Nephi Sewell (Desert Hills) and James Empey (American Fork) all signed contracts with teams following the NFL Draft.
While this year was a home run for the overall team success of colleges in Utah, it was perhaps a base hit in terms of players selected in the NFL Draft. While that is out of their control, these players can still earn their spot on a roster in other ways. It’s time to look at which high schools have historically produced the most NFL players. While their colleges had plenty to do with their development, high school mentors have proven important for young players as well.
For the purpose of this article, only teams with multiple players drafted in the 21st century will be considered. Only two schools have had three players selected since the 2000 NFL Draft. Plenty of players from outside of Utah have also represented the state well in the NFL Draft after playing college here, but that’s a list for another day.
There also were a great deal of players that didn’t get drafted that still found their ways onto NFL rosters. Many of them, drafted or not, are listed on Block U along with players drafted from the 20th century. Others, like Zach Wilson of Corner Canyon, hope to be the first of many players on the rise from new schools like these that are already powerhouse programs.
Who is your favorite high school football player in Utah State history? Let us know by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to hear your reason why. Whether they got to the pros, college or just hung up the cleats after high school, everyone has a story in this state.
Pita Taumoepenu: 2017, San Francisco 49ers
Bronson Kaufusi: 2016, Baltimore Ravens
Xavier Su’a-Filo: 2014, Houston Texans
Stephen Paea: 2011, Chicago Bears
Dax Milne: 2021, Washington Football Team
Dalton Schultz: 2018, Dallas Cowboys
Star Lotulelei: 2013, Carolina Panthers
Kevin Curtis: 2003, St. Louis Rams
Nate Orchard: 2015, Cleveland Browns
Stewart Bradley: 2007, Philadelphia Eagles
Haloti Ngata: 2006, Baltimore Ravens
Tony Bergstrom: 2012, Oakland Raiders
Brandon Doman: 2002, San Francisco 49ers
John Frank: 2000, Philadelphia Eagles
Fui Vakapuna: 2009, Cincinnati Bengals
Sione Po’uha: 2005, New York Jets
Hillcrest (Midvale): 2
Zane Beadles: 2010, Denver Broncos
Scott Young: 2005, Philadelphia Eagles
Lone Peak: 2
Shawn Murphy: 2008, Miami Dolphins
C.J. Ah You: 2007, Buffalo Bills
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