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One year of pile-driving blocks. One year of pancakes. One year of running roughshod through opposing defenses.
Alas for Utah football, it'll be just one year of Garett Bolles.
The junior offensive tackle, who a year ago committed to the Utes as a five-star recruit, will forego his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL draft. The 24-year-old announced the move Wednesday via Twitter, and explained in an interview with The Tribune that the decision is primarily to provide for his young family: his wife Natalie, and their newborn son, Kingston.
"It definitely was my family, putting my wife and son first and knowing I need to take care of them," he said. "There were good things for both. I could've come back. Each way would've been a great decision. But I put in a lot of hard work and effort, and I know I made the right decision."
CBS Sports ranks Bolles, who started at left tackle for the Utes, as the No. 3 prospect available at his position. Pro Football Focus rated him the best run-blocking tackle in the country this season, and he was a Pac-12 all-conference honoree. The NFL draft advisory board sent him back first- and second-round grades for the upcoming draft.
At 6-foot-5 and roughly 300 pounds, Bolles was a wrecking crew for the Utes in the Pac-12's third-ranked run game. While his career got out to a rocky beginning with penalties, Bolles became one of the most feared blockers in the country for his nasty edge and persistence. Where some pushed defenders away, Bolles became known for driving his man into the turf.
Bolles and the rest of the offensive line played a huge role in a win at UCLA, as running back Joe Williams ran for a school single-game record 332 yards.
"Playing in the Rose Bowl is something special," said Bolles. "Nobody realizes how we were in that locker room, pushing each other forward. Having Joe break records means a lot to me, playing in front of him."
Bolles initially said he would make his announcement on New Year's Day, but pushed it back until later in the week. He said the camaraderie at Utah makes it difficult to leave.
Hailing from Utah County, Bolles made a circuitous journey including a brush with the law on his way to Utah. After serving an LDS Church mission, he made his way to Snow College, where he became the No. 1 junior college prospect in the country by Scout.
One of the men who convinced him to come to Utah was one of the first he told Wednesday night: offensive line coach Jim Harding. Bolles said Harding told him he had made the right call, and he would help him in whatever way possible.
"He's been the greatest coach in the whole wide world I have nothing but awesome things to say about him," Bolles said. "I know for the rest of my life I have a coach I can reach out to. I love his wife and kids. It was a hard decision."
Bolles listed the other people at Utah he was grateful for: training staff, strength coaches, academic advisors and more. The next step of his development will take place in Irvine, Calif., where he'll train for the draft. Bolles said his family including his "adopted" family, the Freemans, with whom he lived for much of his adolescence will have his favorite dinner of roast beef sandwiches before he packs up to train.
He joins fellow junior safety Marcus Williams as Utah's other early draft entry. Defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei has indicated to Utah's coaches he intends to play his senior year.
"Utah changes people's lives like mine," Bolles said. "That's what it did for me and my family. I'm going to live my dream, join a team and ride with it. And I'm going to tell everybody I came from a great university."