Junior expects to go in first round

Updated: January 4, 2005, 11:28 AM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Heisman Trophy finalist Alex Smith will announce Tuesday whether he's leaving Utah a year early for the NFL draft.

Alex Smith
Smith

Smith went 21-1 as Utah's starting quarterback and led the Utes to a 12-0 season that culminated with his four passing touchdowns in a 35-7 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. He has said he'd enter the NFL if he felt his draft status was good enough.

After this season, it's not likely to get any better.

A news conference with Smith and coach Kyle Whittingham was scheduled for Tuesday morning. Both Smith and Whittingham did not return repeated messages seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Two Salt Lake City news outlets reported Monday that Smith would skip his senior season and make himself available for the April draft.

Smith was Utah's first Heisman Trophy finalist, leading the Utes to an 11-0 regular season and the Fiesta Bowl berth. Before Saturday's win, he had completed two-thirds of his passes while throwing for 28 touchdowns and four interceptions.

He capped the season by completing 29 of 37 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns in the Fiesta Bowl.

"Can I improve myself that much? Can I get better over the year? Can I help my stock? That's kind of what this is going to come down to," Smith said last week. "Would it be better for me to leave now? Those are the things that are going to have to get weighed."

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Smith has a strong arm but may have to answer skeptics who question whether his thin build can stand up to the NFL.

Smith's departure would leave the Utes in the hands of Brian Johnson, a freshman who's played very little as Smith's backup.

Steve Savoy, Utah's second-leading receiver with 60 catches for 891 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns, is also considering leaving early.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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