Utah's Alex Smith was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
April 23, 2005
NEW YORK -
Alex Smith, who led the 2004 Utah football team to a 12-0 record, a No. 4 national ranking and a Fiesta Bowl victory, became Utah's first-ever No. 1 NFL draft pick today, when he was chosen by the San Francisco `49ers.
Smith opted to leave Utah after his junior season to enter the NFL draft. He graduated in two years from the U., earning a degree in economics in May 2004. He began work on his master's degree in econ this past fall.
A two-year starter, Smith led Utah to back-to-back outright Mountain West Conference championships and bowl victories each year. The Utes were 22-2 from 2003-04 and Smith was 21-1 as their starting quarterback.
His No. 1 draft status is the latest in a string of "firsts" for the Ute QB. He became Utah's first Heisman Trophy finalist in December, finishing fourth in the balloting. He is also Utah's first-ever national player of the year in football--winning accolades from Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. One of three Davey O'Brien finalists (honors the nation's top quarterback), he was also a first-team All-American and the Football Academic All-American of the Year (CoSIDA).
In 2004, Smith passed for 2,952 yards and 32 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions. He finished second in the nation in pass efficiency (176.5) and points responsible for (21.0). A six-time MWC player of the week, as well as the MWC Offensive Player of the Year, Smith rushed for 631 yards and 10 touchdowns. He averaged 298.6 yards per game in total offense, which ranked fifth nationally and led the league.
Smith is the fifth straight quarterback to be taken first overall in the NFL draft. He follows Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, David Carr and Michael Vick as top selections since 2001.
Smith is Utah's sixth all-time first round draft pick. Utah's previous high draft pick was offensive lineman Jordan Gross, taken No. 8 by Carolina in 2003. In 1998, receiver Kevin Dyson was drafted No. 16 by Tennessee. Other Ute first round picks were: Luther Elliss (No. 20 in 1995), Norm Thompson (No. 17 in 1971) and Lee Grosscup in 1959.
The University of Utah is now halfway to becoming the first school ever to have the No. 1 draft pick in a single season by both the NFL and NBA. Ute center Andrew Bogut, a consensus All-American and National Player of the Year, is one of the leading candidates to go No. 1 in this summer's NBA draft.