Junior led Utah to 12-0 season, Fiesta win

Updated: January 4, 2005, 12:16 PM ET
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah quarterback Alex Smith announced Tuesday that he would skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Alex Smith

"After weeks of evaluating future opportunities with my family, I have decided the best decision for me is to forgo my senior year at Utah and declare myself eligible for the 2005 NFL draft," he said.

Smith, a junior, 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 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Heisman Trophy finalist had 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.

Smith was Utah's first Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing fourth.

He led 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. But he also has lost his coach, Urban Meyer, who left for Florida and was replaced by Utah's defensive coordinator, Kyle Whittingham.

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

Smith's departure likely leaves the Utes in the hands of Brian Johnson, a freshman who has 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, has said he would also consider leaving early if Smith entered the draft.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press