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Rocky Top: Former Tennessee QB Nick Lamaison Transfers to UTEP

The UTEP football squad received a much needed boost when Mt. San Antonio (California) College quarterback Nick Lamaison signed yesterday.  With four year starting quarterback Trevor Vittatoe graduating, Lamaison should enter spring ball as the favorite to take over as UTEP's starting signal caller. 

Lamaison redshirted in 2009 with the Tennesee Volunteers before transferring when Lane Kiffin departed for USC.  Lamaison ended up back at Mt. SAC last season and will have two years of eligibility with UTEP.  He will be eligible next season.  The Vols official athletic site lists the following as Lamaison's accolades:  

  • Earned 2008 All-America first team honors by JC Athletic Bureau
  • California Community College Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year
  • Completed 246-of-385 passes for 3,479 yards and 36 touchdowns against only eight interceptions while leading Mt. San Antonio to 12-2 mark and berth in California state title game
  • Named Central Conference Player of the Week in consecutive weeks after throwing for 298 yards and four TDs against Golden West College, then passing for another 324 yards and four more scores against Victor Valley
Just this week, Coach Price sounded less than happy about the progress and effort he's seen from UTEP's other quarterbacks.   He told Bret Bloomquist:

"I'm a little disappointed," Price said of the returnees. "They wasted this year. I'm not pleased with their work. They spent no extra time after practice with young receivers and they were encouraged to do that. I'm going to get in their face about what they do in the winter. Are they going to go out on their own or hope someone hands them the job?

"One of the guys needs to step up. They are going to have to earn it."

Price is surely hoping that the signing of Lamaison will push Tate Smith, Carson Meger, and Javia Hall to work harder and improve this spring.  But, the sad reality is that only Hall looks to have the natural talent to excel at the major college level.   Smith has started a game, for New Mexico, but failed to seize a starting job at a school that has had one of the worst teams in the nation over the last few seasons.  Meger is an undersized walk-on who doesn't have the arm strength needed to fully succeed in Aaron Price's offense (one that loves the deep ball).  Meger is talented, and could serve as a good backup quarterback, but he hardly has the talent to slack off at practice- which Price make it seem like all of the roster QB's are doing.

I think Miner fans are excited to see what Hall can do.  He's more of a natural athlete and has better long term potential at QB than Meger or Tate Smith.  The signing of Lamaison may lead Price to use Hall as a Wildcat option this fall, essentially having him fill in for James Thomas II.  I hope that the coaching staff push Hall to develop as a more complete multi-dimensional quarterback than Thomas did.  JTII of course, lost valuable practice time at receiver, and  as Trevor Vittatoe struggled down the stretch of the 2010 season with injuries, inaccuracy, and turnovers, UTEP was left without a serviceable backup.  Hopefully, the coaches will have a better backup plan in 2011.  My bet is that the backup plan will be Hall, but of course we won't know until Spring.