Sione Vaki is off to the NFL.

The standout safety, who broke out in a major way this season on both sides of the football for Utah, declared for the 2024 NFL Draft on Friday night. Vaki departs after two seasons with the Utah program, 17 starts, a First Team All-Pac-12 selection, and a Second Team All-American selection.

“This decision does not come lightly, but I believe it is the best path for me to pursue my dreams of playing professional football,” Vaki wrote in a social media post. “While I am excited about this next chapter, ‘A Utah Man Am I’ is what I’ll always be. This program will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

Vaki made 12 starts at safety this season for Utah, while also seeing time at running back and out of the wildcat over the last half of the season. On defense, he posted 51 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, three pass breakups, and an interception. He added 317 rushing yards, 203 receiving yards, and five total touchdowns in his role on offense.

A 6-foot sophomore from California, Vaki had just two offensive touches through the first five weeks of the regular season. But then Utah went into its bye week seriously banged up at running back and looking for any kind of spark on offense.

Against Cal on the other side of the bye, Vaki exploded for 158 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. A week later against USC, Vaki had 68 rushing yards, 149 receiving yards, and two total touchdowns.

Utah scaled his offensive role back a bit more as the weeks went on to keep him fresh on defense — Vaki was one of the Pac-12’s better coverage safeties throughout the year. He finished the season with more than 670 snaps on defense and more than 70 offensive snaps from the Cal game on.

With both he and Cole Bishop leaving for the NFL, and JaTravis Broughton hitting the transfer portal, Utah’s secondary figures to look quite different next season.