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Alex Goodlett, Deseret News
Casey Hughes attempts to fight past Philip Afia during a scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah cornerback Casey Hughes, who started 11 games as a junior in 2017, announced via Twitter that he’s leaving the program.

“I want to take this time to thank everyone who has made my experience as a Ute a great one. I have learned a lot during my time here and have grown as a man and a football player. I have made friends that I will have for life and am forever grateful for all the incredible opportunities I have been provided, Hughes wrote in a lengthy post. “I finished my degree this past fall and after a lot of thought I have decided it is in my best interest to pursue a graduate transfer at another university.”

Hughes went on to thank Utah’s coaching staff, adding that his life has been changed forever by his time with the Utes.

“I will always been appreciative of everybody who has been a part of my experience. I will miss my teammates but look forward to watching them be successful and I know I will stay in contact with them long after I’m gone,” Hughes continued. “To the fans, thank you for supporting me and my teammates. The fans, teammates and university will forever hold a special place in my heart. While this has not been an easy decision, I look forward to what is ahead.”

Hughes did not mention a specific destination, The 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back made 35 tackles with two forced fumbles and a pass breakup last season. He missed Utah’s games against Washington and Colorado because of injury.

After redshirting in 2014, Hughes appeared in 18 games over the next two seasons — primarily on special teams. The sociology major was a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention selection.

Hughes topped his Tweet with “Utah will forever be family.”

Teammate Julian Blackmon, the other starting cornerback for the Utes and Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP, was one of several teammates to respond via Twitter.

“Good luck brother. Go ball out wherever you end up!!” he wrote. “Proud to of played with you this past year dawg.”

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was not immediately available for comment according to an athletics department spokesperson.