With National Signing day coming up next Wednesday, it's a good time to take a look at where UTEP's 2011 football recruiting class stands. There's been a barrage of recruiting news over the last few weeks. Mostly, we've seen UTEP raid the junior college ranks to shore up known areas of concern. Also, as noted yesterday, two UTEP commits are now wavering since the Miners reportedly pulled their scholarship offers in hopes they'd grayshirt instead.
As of Monday, January 24, 2011, UTEP's 2011 class consists of 20 players who are have either already signed, some of the JUCO's, or who have verbally committed. Note that that number includes Cole Freytag who will grayshirt next fall. Twelve of the tentative members of the class play offense and 8 play defense. UTEP has not received a commitment from a tight end or any specialists (kicker, punter).
I figure this recruiting page will shift quite a bit in the next week, but this post is a heck of a way to start preparing for national signing day. Remember that verbal commitments are non-binding.
OFFENSE (12 Total)
Overview: Quarterback is obviously a position where the Miners needed help this offseason. With Trevor Vittatoe and James Thomas II graduating, and considering the departure of Andy McCloud and Tim Curry, the Miners entered the offseason with three unproven signal callers. Carson Meger and Tate Smith both began their collegiate careers as walk-ons. Javia Hall didn't and garnered the most recruting buzz of any of the three QB's. It appeared that Hall would seize the position this spring, perhaps that was wishful thinking, but there's no denying he has the most raw talent and upside of the available options.
After the season, Mike Price made it no secret that he wasn't pleased with the work ethic of Hall, Meger, and Smith. So, Coach Price aggressively pursued three prospects and came away with two solid junior college prospects and a virtually undiscovered high school project that looks promising. Nick Lamaison, the national junior college offensive player of the year, will enter spring ball as the front-runner for the starting job. It is believed that Antavious Sims, the other JUCO product, will step in to the "Wildcat" role vacated by Thomas II. Sullivan figures to redshirt. He has the size and talent to develop into a big time quarterback in Mike Price's offense.
Commits: Xavier Williams
Overview: With Joseph Banyard (109 carries, 623 yards, 8 TD's), Leilyon Myers (51 carries, 216 yards, 6 TD's) and Vernon Frazier (38 carries, 231 yards, 2 TD's) all coming back in 2011, the Miners look set at the running back position. But, don't forget that all three of these back will be seniors. So, Xavier Williams may redshirt next season, but he'll be in a good position to challenge for serious playing time in 2012. Williams is a speed back that has big play potential.
Overview: The Miners have lots of unproven receivers on the roster, but only Marlon McClure is a proven returning weapon at wideout. UTEP lost seniors Kris Adams, Pierce Hunter, James Thomas II, and Evan Davis. Donovan Kemp will be back, but is obviously recovering from his ACL injury. UTEP will bring back Corey Trisby and Russell Carr, but neither of those players have proven to be reliable or consistent options. El Paso native Julio Lopez has shown flashes too.Last year, the Miners signed several young receivers, so 2011 will be about finding the next stars. Who will step up? I really like Lavorick Williams. Also, keep an eye on redshirt freshman Jordan Leslie.
As for Harrison, he's one of my 3-4 favorite prospects in this class. He has amazing speed and talent. But, I don't suspect we'll see him until 2012 because of the sheer number of guys ahead of him right now.
Overview: UTEP hasn't signed a tight end in this class. The Miners did lose veterans Jonny Moore and Elijah Goldtrap to graduation. The Miners had three freshman tight ends on the roster last year. The Miners will return sophomore Kevin Perry, who also moonlights on the hoops team. Perry figures to be the starter, but Craig Wenrick and Eric Tomlinson both have potential. Tomlinson, at 6'6, 220, was a three star prospect (Rivals) last year.
The Offensive Linemen
Overview: Well, the Miners lost all 5 starting linemen to graduation and their backup left tackle for good measure. UTEP had an immediate need along the o-line and that's been shown by Price's signing of Robinson and Martin. Both figure to start next season and Martin should protect Nick Lamaison's blind side at left tackle. Veteran center Eloy Atkinson and guard Paul Santillan return. So does veteran Nathan McCage. UTEP has some depth, but as we learned the hard way last year, you can never have enough size and talent along the line.
DEFENSE (8 Total)
Commits: Roy Robertson (DE)
Overview: Many probably thought UTEP would have made more of an effort along the D-Line. The truth is, UTEP had a lot of talent there last year, but were just very young and raw. Bernard Obi, Greg Watkins, James Davidson, Adam Ayala, Isaac Tauaefa, Ruben Munoz, Jamie Fehoko, Marcus Bagley, and Germard Reed all return. The Miners only lose veteran Robert Soleyjacks. Watkins has the frame of a potential superstar. Ayala and Davidson both played well as freshman. Davidson was an OLB, so we'll see if he stays at end during the spring.
If the Miners were only going to get one, Roy Robertson was the one to get. Robertson is a 6'5, 240 lb. pass rusher from South Grand Prairie. Arkansas, Minnesota, and Texas Tech all offered him a scholarship. He's a Rivals 3 Star Prospect who has all the potential in the world.
Overview: While UTEP's linebackers played hard in 2010, it was evident that the Miners needed more size and strength in the 4-3 then they did in the 3-3-5. Jamie Irving, Isaiah Carter, and Royzell Smith will all be seniors next season and all of them had some strong points in 2010. DeAndre Little and Aubrey Alexius figure to have breakout years next season too. I expect the two JUCO players, Fely and Ropati to compete immediately for starting jobs. Fely is a middle linebacker and Ropati will be on the outside.
Overview: The Miners return veterans Trevaun Nixon and Antwon Blake at corner. DeShawn Grayson and Richard Spencer will be back at safety. While UTEP loses veterans Braxton Amy and Wiston Jeune, the Miners have some young players on the roster with potential. Chad Moncure was a top 75 safety from Rivals coming out of high school.
Zoey Williams is my favorite player in this class. Thre more I read about him, the more excited I am about his potential. I expect Woodard to compete for a starting job immediately. He's a great cover corner who makes big plays. I think Woodard and Nixon can be a very good starting group on the outside.
These are the players that we discussed yesterday. UTEP pulled their offers for the Baldwin Park duo in hopes they would accept grayshirts instead. So, these two athletes could sign with UTEP but, like Cole Freytag, would grayshirt in the fall of 2011 and wouldn't join the team until spring 2012.
There are at least two players that UTEP is still targeting. The first is 6'8 OT Trint Jenkins out of Tulsa Oklahoma. Trint is now an ESPN 2 star prospect. Also, UTEP is still targeting 6'0 wide receiver Mike Edwards from Mt. SAC C.C. Edwards, of course, was the teammate of Nick Lamaison and James Martin on the Mt. SAC JUCO National Championship team last year.
Time To Break out the Big Board
And, without further ado.... here's the current recruiting board. Not all of the sites have confirmed some of these recruits. For example, Rivals currently lists a class of 13, ESPN has 16, and Scout has 14. I believe the class is currently at 20 prospects. If you see a blank space, that recruit is not listed as a UTEP commit on that particular site. If you see a *, note that the asterisk means that a recruiting site has issued a star rating but does not have that particular recruit listed as a UTEP commit. If you see "NR" the site has the commit listed as a UTEP pledge, but has not yet ranked the student athlete.
This chart contains each prospects position, measurables, and their respective Rivals, ESPN, and Scout star rating. Whenever highlights are available of a particular recruit, I embed them to their respective commit post.
|Position||UTEP 2011 Recruiting Big Board||HT/WT||Rivals||ESPN (Grade)||Scout||Miner Rush Story|
|Offense||13 listed||16 listed||14 listed|
|QB||Blaire Sullivan||6'4, 198||NR||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|QB||Nick Lamaison||6'1, 210||NR||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|QB||Antavious Sims||6'2, 200||3 Star||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|RB||Xavier Williams||5'11, 195||Yes|
|WR||Ishmael Harrison||5'11, 179||2 Star||3 Star (75)||2 Star||Yes|
|WR||Cole Freytag||6'2, 180||Yes|
|OG||Clint Simon||6'2, 263||3 Star||2 Star (72)||2 Star||Yes|
|C||A.C. Patterson||6'0, 299||2 Star||2 Star (69)||2 Star||Yes|
|T||Ryan Lindblade||6'5, 262||2 Star||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|OG||James Robinson||6'5, 325||NR||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|OT||James Martin||6'5, 300||Yes|
|OT||Cody Elenz||6'3, 280|
|DE||Roy Robertson||6'5, 240||3 star*||NR|
|ILB||Tyrone Darling||6'0, 220||2 Star||2 Star (68)||2 Star||Yes|
|MLB||Josh Fely||6'0, 215||2 Star||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|LB||A.J. Ropati||6'2, 230||3 Star||NR||2 Star||Yes|
|CB||Zoey Williams||5'10, 185||3 Star||3 Star (76)||3 Star||Yes|
|CB||Darren Woodard||6'1, 185||Yes|
|S||Shane Huhn||6'0, 185||2 Star||2 Star (73)||2 Star||Yes|
|S||Gage Sharp||5'11, 185|
|OLB||Wardell Crutchfield||2 Star (74)||2 Star||Yes|
|OT||Trint Jenkins||6'8, 320||2 Star (69)|
|CB||Michael Mudoh||5'9, 185||3 Star (75)|
|WR||Michael Edwards (JUCO)||6'0, 195|