(STACKER) – While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the Utah Utes using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Sean Smith (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #61 overall in 2009
– Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
– Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (0 Pro Bowls)

#19. Andre Dyson (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #60 overall in 2001
– Drafted by: Tennessee Titans
– Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Paul Kruger (DE)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #57 overall in 2009
– Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
– Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#17. Dean Miraldi (T)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #55 overall in 1981
– Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
– Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Darryl Haley (T)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #55 overall in 1982
– Drafted by: New England Patriots
– Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Nate Orchard (DE)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #51 overall in 2015
– Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
– Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#14. Jaylon Johnson (CB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #50 overall in 2020
– Drafted by: Chicago Bears
– Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Eric Rowe (CB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #47 overall in 2015
– Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
– Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. Marquise Blair (S)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #47 overall in 2019
– Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#11. Zane Beadles (G)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #45 overall in 2010
– Drafted by: Denver Broncos
– Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (1 Pro Bowls)

#10. Marcus Williams (S)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #42 overall in 2017
– Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
– Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#9. Koa Misi (LB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #40 overall in 2010
– Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
– Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#8. Eric Weddle (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #37 overall in 2007
– Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 12 (6 Pro Bowls)

#7. Luther Elliss (DT)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #20 overall in 1995
– Drafted by: Detroit Lions
– Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (2 Pro Bowls)

#6. Garett Bolles (T)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #20 overall in 2017
– Drafted by: Denver Broncos
– Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#5. Norm Thompson (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #17 overall in 1971
– Drafted by: St. Louis Rams
– Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#4. Kevin Dyson (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #16 overall in 1998
– Drafted by: Tennessee Titans
– Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#3. Star Lotulelei (DT)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #14 overall in 2013
– Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#2. Jordan Gross (T)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 2003
– Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 11 (3 Pro Bowls)

#1. Alex Smith (QB)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 2005
– Drafted by: San Francisco 49ers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 14 (3 Pro Bowls)