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Lucky Radley says his transfer to San Diego State was "probably the hardest decision I've had to make in my life."

"I love Utah dearly," the senior running back told The Tribune by phone Monday. "It was really emotional. I didn't want to leave. I love everything about it, but I also want to follow my dream and play in the NFL, and I think this will give me the best opportunity."

Splitting time with Bubba Poole and Kelvin York, Radley averaged a team-high 4.8 yards per carry in 2013 — rushing for 284 yards and two touchdowns and making 11 grabs for 80 yards and another score.

This fall Radley was expected to compete for reps with Poole, junior transfer Devontae Booker and redshirt freshman Troy McCormick. The Utes may seem to have a surplus of capable running backs, but "I love competition," Radley said. "That's not an issue at all."

He's transferring, rather, because San Diego State is coming off a season in which they rushed 510 times for 2,166 yards, and he feels Utah is likely to have a passing-oriented attack under offensive coordinator Dave Christensen.

"I know he likes to throw the ball," Radley said. "He goes five-wide a lot. There's nothing wrong with that — I love pass blocking, and I love running routes and stuff. [But] my ultimate goal was to get to the NFL, and if I have any shot, I feel like the best shot would be with San Diego State."

Radley said he went through a list of every school he could think of, crossing some out and highlighting others. Aztecs junior Adam Muema declared for the NFL draft, and Radley decided SDSU's run-first offense was the best vehicle for his talents.

It was tough telling running backs coach Dennis Erickson, though.

"I love that guy," Radley said.

"He kept it real with me. He could have told me what I wanted to hear, but he was just honest with me."

Radley said it was no picnic telling the head man, either.

Kyle Whittingham has been "like a father to me, the last four or five years," he said.

"He still tells me that if I want to come back, he would accept me back today, on a dime."

Radley graduated from the U. with a bachelor's in sociology in 2013.

He asked that The Tribune share the three things he'll miss most about Utah, listed here in descending order of importance:

3. The Park Cafe.

2. "I will miss the fans. The MUSS — that was one of the greatest experiences I will ever have in my life."

1. "Just the whole team. Those were my U. boys."

— Matthew Piper

Twitter: @matthew_piper