After the University of Utah shuffled a handful more players into the NFL via the draft, the frantic signings of undrafted free agents kicked off Saturday evening as soon as the draft concluded.
The Los Angeles Rams scooped up two football players of local interest: Weber State defensive end Jonah Williams and Northridge High School alumnus and BYU defensive back Dayan Ghanwoloku.
Williams, a defensive end, was an All-American as a senior and the Big Sky Defensive MVP. He finished fifth in the conference in sacks and was 12th in tackles for loss. He recored 15 career sacks, ninth in school history.
A native of Meridian, Idaho, Williams totaled 194 tackles, including 28 for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered three more while anchoring what became one of the country’s best defenses at the FCS level.
Ghanwoloku, known as Dayan Lake when he prepped at Northridge High in Layton, also signed with the Rams. The defensive back totaled 207 tackles and seven interceptions in four seasons at BYU.
Ghanwoloku totaled two nine-tackle games in his career, returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in 2016 at Boise State, and intercepted two passes against Mississippi State in 2017.
He became the second Layton native taken into the NFL this week after the Indianapolis Colts drafted Utah defensive back and Layton High alum Julian Blackmon in the third round Friday.
Utah was the only in-state college to have a player taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, totaling seven selections when the event came to a close. After Blackmon and running back Zack Moss were taken with consecutive picks in the third round, the Rams selected defensive back Terrell Burgess late Friday with the 104th overall pick.
Saturday, the Arizona Cardinals drafted defensive tackle Leki Fotu (fourth round, 114th overall), the Dallas Cowboys selected defensive end Bradlee Anae (fifth round, 179th pick) and the Detroit Lions took defensive tackle John Penisini (sixth round, 197th pick).
For the first time in 20 years, the Big Sky Conference did not have a player taken in the draft. In fact, only six FCS players were selected this year; before this week, the fewest number of FCS players taken in a single draft since 1993 was 12. In 2019, 13 FCS players were drafted. There was a predraft suspicion that small-school players would be overlooked because pro days were canceled due to the new coronavirus pandemic; that seemed to come to pass.
Weber State’s last player drafted was defensive back Taron Johnson, who was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 2018 draft.
WSU defensive end Adam Rodriguez was hopeful to land as a free agent this year, possibly with a switch to linebacker but, as of Saturday night, no reports about Rodriguez were available.
This week was the first time since 2015 that BYU did not see a player drafted.
Here’s a rundown of players drafted or signed, listed by college:
Free agents: DB Dayan Ghanwoloku (Rams), WR Aleva Hifo (Chiefs), RB Ty’Son Williams (Ravens).
Drafted: DB Jaylon Johnson (2nd round, Bears); DB Julian Blackmon (3rd, Colts); RB Zack Moss (3rd, Bills); DB Terrell Burgess (3rd, Rams); DT Leki Fotu (4th, Cardinals); DE Bradlee Anae (5th, Cowboys); DT John Penisini (6th, Lions).
Free agents: LB Francis Bernard (Cowboys), DB Javelin Guidry (Jets), QB Tyler Huntley (Ravens), DB Josh Nurse (Ravens), OL Darrin Paulo (Saints).
Drafted: QB Jordan Love (1st round, Packers).
Free agents: K Dominik Eberle (Raiders), DE Tipa Galeai (Packers), WR Siaosi Mariner (Raiders), TE Caleb Repp (Falcons).
Free agents: DE Jonah Williams (Rams).
Free agents: Montana LB Dante Olson (Eagles), Montana State LB Bryce Sterk (Dolphins) and WR Travis Jonsen (Buccaneers), Northern Arizona QB Case Cookus (Giants), Cal Poly WR JJ Koski (Rams), Sacramento State DE George Obinna (Browns).