With the Super Bowl in less than a week, let's take a step back from the seemingly endless predictions and insight surrounding this game. While it's rare to find relevant news involving Utah when talking about the NFL, especially during the Super Bowl, but as you look closer at he rosters of both the 49ers and the Ravens, you come to find that the state of Utah actually has a decent showing in terms of players/coaches with ties back to the state. Here is just a quick background of each coach/player's connection to Utah as well as their time in the NFL.
Dennis Pitta – BYU (Ravens, TE)
Ravens starting tight end, Dennis Pitta, spent 4 season with the Brigham Young Cougars from 2004-2009 while serving a two-year mission for the LDS Church after his 2004 season. Pitta is the all-time BYU leader in career receptions, career receiving yards as well as receiving yards in a season for a tight end. Pitta was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 4th round of 2010 NFL draft. While entering his career as a backup behind Todd Heap, Pita has become a top target of quarterback Joe Flacco in the Ravens passing attack. Finishing the 2012 regular season with 61 reception, 669 receiving yards, as well as 7 touchdowns, Pitta has become one of the NFL's top tier tight ends.
Ma'ake Kemoeatu – U of U (Ravens, DT)
Ma'ake Kemoeatu spent 4 seasons with the Utes afteer growing up in Hawaii. Kemoeatu was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 2002. After spending four season with the Ravens, Kemoeatu was signed by the Carolina Panthers, where he spent three seasons. After a short one year stint with the Washington Redskins, Kemoeatu returned to the Ravens after a year off of football, recording 29 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 sack in 13 games in 2012.
Haloti Ngata - Highland High (Ravens, DE)
While attending Highland High, Haloti Ngata led the Rams to a 12-2 record and a berth in the state championship his junior year, as well as leading Highland with over 100 tackles during his senior year. Ngata decided to reject BYU's offer, where he said he felt most comfortable, and attended Oregon. While with the Ducks Ngata became a 5-star recruit and was drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Ngata has spent his entire career with the Ravens, being selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls.
Paul Kruger – U of U/Orem, Timpanogos High (Ravens, OLB)
After becoming one of the nation's top 50 quarterbacks while attending Timpanogos High, Paul Kruger redshirted with the Utah Utes for their 12-0 Fiesta Bowl Championship season. After serving a two year LDS Church mission in Independence, Missouri, Kruger returned to the Utes as the starting right end for the 2008 season. After finishing 13-0 and winning the Sugar Bowl with the Utes, Kruger elected to forego his final two seasons of college eligibility and enter the NFL draft. Kruger was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Baltimore Ravens where he has spent his entire career.
David Reed – U o fU (Ravens, WR)
David Reed was born in Dubuque Iowa, but attended the University of Utah, where he spent his junior and senior seasons. Reed played a big role in the Utes' 13-0 season in 2008-2009 by averaging over 17 yards per reception and six touchdowns in his junior year. As a senior, Reed set school records for both receiving yards and receptions in a season. Reed was also the only player in the Mountain West Conference to eclipse 1,000–plus yards during his senior year. Reed was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, where he as spent time as both a receiver as well as kick returner.
Alex Smith – U of U (49ers, QB)
Alex Smith attended the University of Utah from 2002-2005. Smith started two seasons for the Utes, combining for over 5,000 yards passing, 1,000 yards rushing and 22 combined touchdowns. Smith had a career record of 21-1 as a starter while with the U. After the Utes' 2005 Fiesta Bowl win, Smith finished 4th in Heisman voting and was selected with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Smith had spent his entire career as the 49er's starting quarter back until a concussion forced him to sit out a week, eventually being permanently replaced by Colin Kaepernick.
Will Tukuafu – Salt Lake City/ East High (49ers, DE)
Will Tukuafu was born in Salt Lake City and attended East High School. After going undrafted, Tukuafu was signed by the San Francisco 49ers, and debuted with the team in 2010. At 6 feet 4 inches and 293 pounds, Tukuafu is listed as a defensive end/fullback and is currently on the 49ers active roster. Seeing time in the 2012 NFC East championship, Tukuafu recorded one tackle and one assisted tackle against the New England Patriots.
Wade Harman – USU (Ravens, TE coach)
Wade Harman, currently serving as the Baltimore Ravens tight ends coach, previously graduated from Utah State University with a degree in physical education and recreation. Harmon also played linebacker while at USU. Harmon is currently the longest tenured coach on the Raven’s staff, serving 14 seasons in Baltimore. Harman is responsible for the coaching players like Shannon Sharpe, Ed Dickson, Todd Heap, as well as BYU grad, Dennis Pitta. Before coming to the NFL, Harmon also spent time working on the Utah State coaching staff.
Chad Hall – Hill AFB (49ers, WR)
Chad Hall was originally recruited to the Air Force Academy as a quarterback. However, after his freshman season he was later converted to running back, receiver, and return specialist. During his senior season at Air Force, Hall was the only player in the nation to lead his team in both rushing and receiving yards, and finished third in the nation for all-purpose yards. After college, Hall served in the United States Air Force from 2008-2009, stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. After going undrafted, Hall found a home with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2010-2012, where he spent time on the active roster as a receiver. Hall was later signed by the 49ers to their practice squad and was promoted to the active roster on January 19, 2013.