SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah cornerback Brandon Burton has decided not to return for his senior season and is entering the upcoming National Football League Draft.
"I love Utah football and college football so it was definitely a hard decision for me," said Burton, who was projected to go as high as the late first round by some draft experts.
Burton, a 6-foot, 185-pound lockdown corner, made 51 tackles and two interceptions for the Utes in 2010. He finishes his college career with 97 stops (67 solo) and three picks over three seasons. His most memorable play, however, will most likely be the game-saving block of a BYU field-goal attempt he made on the final play of the game in Utah's 17-16 victory over the Cougars in November.
"Brandon played a big part in our defensive success the past two years. After evaluating his options, he and his family have decided it's in his best interest to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in a released statement. "We appreciate all that Brandon did for our program during his time at Utah and we wish him well in all his future endeavors."
Burton's decision to turn pro came after receiving a favorable evaluation from the NFL.
"I was looking for a certain response, and it was exactly what I thought it would be," Burton said. "So when I heard back from them that just clarified what I wanted to hear from them. It just gave my decision that much more weight. I felt like I was making the right decision."
Burton didn't act upon the news immediately. The second-team all-conference honoree sat down with his family, evaluated the situation and came to a decision a couple of days later. Burton officially declared for the draft Sunday night.
Departing before getting the chance to play in the Pac-12, where the Utes are moving next season, was something Burton considered. However, in the end, he decided the NFL was his best option. Burton is in the process of hiring an agent.
In a formal announcement of his decision, Burton noted hat he plans to continue working towards his degree in economics. He'll take online classes initially and return to Utah in the offseason to complete his course work.
Burton started in 37 games for the Utes and tallied 18 career pass breakups, ninth-most in team history.
EXTRA POINTS: Burton is expected to join former teammates Matt Asiata, Caleb Schlauderaff and Zane Taylor at the NFL Scouting Combine, Feb. 23-March 11 in Indianapolis. More ex-Utes could be added to the list . . . Utah safety Justin Taplin-Ross and Schlauderaff have been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game Jan. 22 in Orlando . . . Offensive line coach Blake Miller, who joined the Utah staff in 2009, has reportedly accepted a job at Memphis. Nothing, however, was official as of Monday evening.