Savoy headed to NFL

Ute FootballFollowing Smith: The Utah receiver joins the exodus that will leave next season's offense depleted
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Savoy file

l Steve Savoy finished the Utes' Fiesta Bowl season with 67 catches for 961 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Looks like Alex Smith has some company.

Just days after the record-setting quarterback announced he will not return for his senior season at Utah, one of his favorite targets made the same decision, with sophomore receiver Steve Savoy declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft.

"I'm going," he told The Tribune on Sunday.

Savoy said Sunday that he opted to turn pro last Friday, three days after Smith's announcement. That leaves the Utes virtually without proven offensive talent barely a week after beating Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to complete an historic undefeated season.

Not only are Smith and Savoy turning pro early, but the Utes also lose senior running back Marty Johnson and senior receivers Paris Warren and Travis LaTendresse. Those players accounted for almost all of the team's prodigious offense last season.

Savoy said he has hired an agent and expects to be chosen in the first three rounds of the draft on April 23 in New York City. The last four rounds are April 24.

Though he's only a sophomore, the 22-year-old Savoy is eligible to be drafted because he has been out of high school for more than three years. He attended a prep school for a semester after high school before joining the Utes, then redshirted with a knee injury his first season in 2002.

Savoy played a major role for the Utes the past two seasons after recovering from the injury, catching 107 passes for 1,624 yards and 18 touchdowns. The speedy deep threat ranked as the Utes' second-leading receiver behind Warren this past season, with 67 catches for 961 yards and 11 touchdowns. Warren broke his own school record with 80 receptions.

New coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig now will have to rebuild an offense whose top returners are running back Quinton Ganther and receiver John Madsen. Ganther rushed for 654 yards and two touchdowns as a part-time starter last season, while Madsen was the fourth-leading receiver with 27 catches for 355 yards and five touchdowns.