Four local college players selected on final day of NFL Draft

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Three Utes and one Aggie got selected on the final day of the NFL Draft Saturday.

Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky Matt Gay became the first punter and kicker taken in the same year from the same school since 1985. Utah State running back Darwin Thompson and Utah offensive lineman Jackson Barton were also selected.

Wishnowsky was the first punter taken in the draft, when he went to the San Francisco 49ers in the 4th round with the 110th overall pick.

Wishnowsky is the first Utah punter taken in the draft since 1979 when Rick Partridge was drafted in the eighth round (208thoverall pick) by Green Bay. Wishnowsky is just the third Ute punter ever drafted by an NFL team, joining Partridge and Marv Bateman, who was drafted 78thoverall in the third round by Buffalo in 1972. 

He was the first punter to be picked in this year’s draft and the highest drafted punter since 2012 when California’s Bryan Anger went to Jacksonville in the third round with the 70th overall pick. 

The Perth, Australia native is a three-time All-American, the 2016 Ray Guy Award winner and the only three-time Ray Guy Award finalist in NCAA history. He was also a three-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection.

Wishnowsky finished with 62 career punts of 50-plus yards (second all-time at Utah), 175 career punts (fourth) and 8,004 punt yards (sixth). 

Gay was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round with the 145th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Gay is the first Utah kicker taken in the draft in program history, and along with Wishnowsky, become the first punter-kicker tandom drafted from the same school in the same year since 1985 when Clemson’s Dale Hatcher and Donald Igwebuike were both selected.

In two seasons at Utah, Gay was the 2017 Lou Groza Award winner, a two-time All-American (consensus in 2017) and two-time first-team All-Pac-12 pick. He ranks third all-time at Utah with 56 career field goals, is fourth in attempts (65), third in career kick scoring points (253), set the school record for 50-yard field goals made (8), ranks second in career field goal percentage (86.15) and is seventh in career PATs made (85). 

After starting his collegiate career as a soccer player at Utah Valley, Gay transferred to Utah and got his first swing at football in 2017. In his first season, he won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker and was a consensus All-American. 

That season, he led the country in almost every major kicking category: field goals made (30), field goals made per game (2.31), 50-plus yard field goals, (5, tie) and field goals attempted (34). He led the Pac-12 and ranked fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (.882). 

His 130 points, 30 field goals and 34 attempts all set Utah single-season records while his .882 field goal percentage ranks fourth all-time at Utah. Out of his five 50-plus yard field goals, his 56-yarders against San Jose State and Washington State rank second all-time in Utah history. 

As a senior in 2018, he was a second-team All-American by the FWAA, The Athletic and Phill Steele, and was an AP third-team All-American. The Lou Groza Award semifinalist led the Pac-12 and ranked third nationally in field goals made (26) and field goals per game (1.86). 

He set a school record by making 21 straight field goals and won four Pac-12 Special Teams Player of The Week nods. He led the league in scoring (8.8 ppg) and total points (123) in 2018, also setting a Utah single-game record for field goals made in a game (6) and points in a game (20) against Oregon.

Thompson was a 6th round selection by the Kansas City Chiefs, the 214th overall pick.

During his one season at Utah State, Thompson earned second-team all-Mountain West honors as he carried the ball 153 times for 1,044 yards (6.8 yards per carry/80.3 yards per game) and 14 touchdowns to lead the team in all three categories, while adding 23 receptions for 351 yards (15.3 yards per reception) and two touchdowns.

On the season, Thompson ranked first in the Mountain West and 13th in the nation in rushing yards per carry (6.8), second in the MW and 20th in the nation with 14 rushing touchdowns (1.1 per game), third in the MW and 14th in the nation in total touchdowns with 16 (1.2 per game), fifth in the MW and 51st in the nation in scoring (7.4 points per game), fifth in the MW and 56th in the nation in rushing (80.3. yards per game), and fifth in the MW and 65th in the nation in all-purpose yards (107.3 yards per game).

With his 1,044 rushing yards in 2018, Thompson became the first Aggie in five years and the 18th in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Overall, his 1,044 rushing yards last year are tied for the 16th-most in school history and he is just the 32nd USU player to rush for 1,000 yards in a career.

Overall, Thompson is fourth all-time at Utah State for a single season with his 16 total touchdowns and is tied for sixth with his 14 rushing touchdowns. Furthermore, he is also fifth all-time in rushing average at 6.8 yards per carry and is tied for ninth in scoring with 96 points. And finally, his career rushing average is tied for the fourth-best in school history.

Then in the 7th round, Barton was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the 240th overall pick. Barton’s brother Cody was drafted on Friday in the 3rd round by the Seattle Seahawks.

Barton is the ninth offensive lineman to be drafted by the NFL during Kyle Whittingham’s tenure as head coach and the first Ute to be taken by the Colts in Utah history. 

A four-year letterman and two-year starter for the Utes at left tackle, Barton earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior. He played in 53 games during his time in Salt Lake City, appearing on the line in 44 games with 29 starts. 

Coming out of Brighton High School as a four-star recruit, he played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2015. His career as a starter began in 2016 when he got the starting nod in two games, taking over the left tackle position full-time in 2017. 

Barton ranked second on the team in total plays in 2017 while also leading the team in cuts. As a senior in 2018, Barton led the team in total snaps and cuts, earning first-team All-Pac-12. 

In all, five Utah players (Marquise Blair, Cody Barton, Mitch Wishnowsky, Matt Gay and Jackson Barton), one BYU player (Sione Takitaki) and one Utah State player (Darwin Thompson) were taken in the 2019 NFL Draft.

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