Yesterday was a mixed bag of recruiting news as the UTEP Miners picked up two junior college transfers, MLB Josh Fely and OL James Robinson, but lost a commitment from Cedar Hill stud wide receiver Lovett Gibson to the Rice Owls. Today is a better day in Minerville as UTEP received a signed letter of intent from Harbor C.C. linebacker A..J. Ropati. Before we go any further, just watch some of these hits A.J. dishes out like candy.
Ropati is a 6'2, 230 lb. linebacker prospect originally from Carson High School in Carson California. He was one of several JUCO prospects to visit UTEP this past weekend and is now the third to commit to the team. Judging by his Facebook page, he seems very excited to be a Miner which is always good to see. According to Scout.com. Ropati played weakside linebacker last season at Harbor. Rivals.com reports that A.J. played in 10 games and accumulated 51 tackles, a sack, and 7 tackles for loss. Scout notes that he was receiving interest from Kansas State and UNLV among others. Other reporting sites note that several Pac 10 schools were looking at him too.
Judging by his highlights, I'd guess that Ropati could potentially play strong safety at UTEP. Obviously, the Miners need as many bodies as possible at outside linebacker in Andre Patterson's 4-3 defense. Ropati looks to have the speed to contribute in the secondary too though. Note that Wiston Jeune and Brandon Miller are both graduating at strong safety. I wouldn't be surprised if the coaches at least look at him back there with DeShawn Grayson during spring ball.
Thanks again to Quantumii_USA for the heads up via his Twitter Feed.