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UTEP Football Recruting

The college football season just ended, but national signing day is quickly approaching. In fact, it's one week from tomorrow (February 1st). With that, it's time to take a look at what the 2012 recruiting class looks like. Here's a list of players who have given verbal commitments to play football at UTEP.

Devonte Richardson - DT - 6'2 - 290 lbs - ESPN 3 Star Athlete - Grade (75) - Position Ranking - 91st - Juan Seguin High School - Arlington, TX


"Richardson demonstrates the ability to be a stout run defender. He possesses good overall size and may even carry a little more bulk than what is listed. He displays a solid get-off though could work to improve on getting off the ball a little quicker. He displays the ability to come out of his stance low and play with some bend and maintain good pad level. Demonstrates good playing strength. When he shoots his hands which he does a solid job of doing he is able to press blockers off of him and hold his ground. He does though need to work to be even more consistent at using his hands as he can lose them at times and when blockers can get into his frame he can pushed back. Comes across as more of a gap-control type defender. Will pursue to the ball and has adequate range for his size. He needs to keep improving as a tackler as he can attack ball carriers high which can lead to misses. Looks best suited as a run defender and will need to develop as a pass rusher. Not a lot of flash or wow factor with Richardson, but the kid displays the tools to develop into a steady and pretty stout interior run defender."

Glen Antoine - DT - 6'1 - 273 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (74) - Position Ranking - 116th - Round Rock High School - Round Rock, TX


"Antoine can be a stout run defender. The defensive tackle has solid size, but will need to continue to improve strength and try and pack on some additional good mass. He has a solid get-off, but is not an overly explosive kid that will provide much if any quick penetration. Displays good flexibility working from a three-point stance and is able to come off the ball low and get under blockers pads and gain leverage. He does a good job of consistently shooting his hands and is able to quickly create and maintain some separation. With his ability to use his hands and keep his pads down he can be tough in one-on-one situations and hold his ground. Does an adequate job of disengaging and being able to come off the block and play the ball. Displays marginal range and short-area change-of-direction skills. Needs to keep developing his ability to take on the double team as he can at times give ground on the initial surge, but with added size and strength should be able to be stouter in those situations. Looks best suited as a gap-control type run defender and displays more adequate ability as a pass rusher. He brings and can be active with his hands and potentially with his ability to fire out low can create some push back into the pocket, but looks best suited as more of a run defender. Antoine is not a flashy player, but with more size can be a stout interior run defender."

Daniel Shaul - DE - 6'2 - 265 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (74) - Position Ranking - 183rd - Klein Oak High School - Spring, TX


"Shaul is a developmental defensive lineman that has the potential to play inside or outside along the defensive front. Displays good initial quickness off the football, does a good job on stunts of using his lateral quickness to slip blockers and make the tackle for loss. Plays with a good motor, hustles to the football all over the field. Shows good arm length and tries to use his hands to defeat blocks but needs to add strength to hold up vs bigger offensive lineman. Lacks ideal height to become an ideal sized defensive lineman. Plays good pad leverage vs the run, is able to shock the offensive lineman on contact. Quick to latch on and drop vs double team. Would like to see him run his feet through contact rather than drag ball carriers down. Flashes good instincts vs zone read teams to read and anticipate to make the play. Displays a good speed to power rush at defensive end. Overall, Shaul has is a tough player with very good athletic traits to play along the defensive front; he must add mass and strength to perform at the next level."

Dashone Smith - S - 5'11 - 180 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (73) - Position Ranking - 138rd - Klein Oak High School - Spring, TX


"Smith is a ball hawking strong safety that takes some risks in order to make plays. Shows average size at the strong safety position, needs to add more playing strength. Willing hitter that will front up the ball carrier, good form tackler. Needs to continue to develop strength and mass to back up his hits. Plays with a high motor, flies around the field looking to make plays. Very aggressive player who is quick to come downhill vs the run. Takes good angles to the ball carrier. Can get himself out of position vs play action pass because of his aggressive nature. Looks comfortable playing down around the line of scrimmage. Needs to refine his technique as a defensive back, tends to hop and could struggle vs better route runners in coverage. Not a highly disciplined player vs the pass. Primarily a zone player at this point, shows enough speed and change of direction to be able to matchup vs backs and tight ends at the next level. Displays solid ball skills and has some ability to make plays after an interception. Should be a contributor on special teams, especially on coverage units. Overall, Smith is an aggressive defensive player that can develop into a tackling machine at the next level, needs to continue to add strength to match his playing style and improve his technical skills vs the pass."

Darnell Murray - OLB - 5'11 - 208 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (72) - Position Ranking - 136th - Citrus Hill High School - Peris, CA


"Murray is very effective lining up as a strong safety in the box, quite often getting a free run at the ball carrier; gets off the mark with good initial quickness and anticipation, showing a nose for the football. Has the minimum size with good athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition; needs to add bulk to his frame; a growth spurt would be helpful. The agility and balance we see coupled with his though warp and knock'em back tackling ability should prove beneficial as a special team's coverage defender; demonstrates the ability to time snaps resulting in blocked punts, field goals and PAT's. Although we like his ability to move through traffic and play in space this prospect is somewhat of a long strider with a little hip tightness; does a good job with key and diagnosis reaction skills; plays downhill effectively demonstrating good lateral pursuit. Can turn, change direction and avoid trash when working off the edge to the sideline; is quick to the cutoff point showing range outside the hashes. Is effective rushing the passer showing good blitz timing; has potential as a zone and man coverage defender; flashes good route awareness and anticipation. This guy is a tough customer who plays with the motor and desire we look for when evaluating linebackers. Although Murray is presently flying under the radar as a major level prospect we feel his toughness and athleticism make him a prospect worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses."

Terrence Williams - ATH - 5'10 - 170 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (72) - Position Ranking - 178th - Dunbar High School - Baltimore, MD


"Williams adds value to both the offensive and defensive huddles. As a RB/WR will be a spark and shows big play ability. In the defensive backfield displays his athleticism and a knack to out jump his competition. Will most likely be recruited as an athlete for the next level. Has good speed but does not possess top end speed. Displays good awareness and diagnosis skill-set as a DB. In man coverage, can mirror and run with receiver tracking the downfield throw effectively but shows some hip tightness in transition. At corner, in loose zone coverage, gets depth and closes cushion with a quick burst to make a play on the ball and undercut route. Shows good leaping ability and body control within traffic. As a run stopper, can fill the alley but we would like to see him explode and rotate hips through defender. Hesitates, at times, getting downhill to put a stick on an outside run from a high-point safety technique. As an RB, speed is good but more straight-lined. Exhibits good vision with cutback ability. Runs high at times, opening up body for direct hits. Shows some lateral suddenness as a wildcat QB, making the first guy miss. Has speed to corner but is not a consistent threat to break 2nd level tackles or break a long run. Overall, Williams flashes good versatility, competing in all three phases of the game. Projects to a mid-major level program as an athlete."

Autrey Golden - RB - 5'11 - 185 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (71) - Position Ranking - 185th - Willis High School - Willis, TX


"Golden is a well-rounded running back with a quick-hitting, elusiveness running back prospect. Runs with a decisive style but is limited in stature; he could add bulk but would need to keep his speed and agility competitive . Possesses good vision and quickness when in tight areas, showing good cut back ability. He needs to improve on his foot speed and initial burst at the line of scrimmage. Shows complementary back type qualities, particularly as a zone runner. Shows good lateral movement in traffic, planting and changing direction well. Possesses good patience when running inside or outside zone. Presses the heels of the front side lineman, allowing blocks to set up either front side or backside for a cut back. Can make first defender miss and get extra yardage on a busted play. Flashes a knack to lower his shoulder at the end of runs, finishing strong. With that being said, he is a short stepper. Rarely displays the top-end speed or explosive extra gear needed to gain the corner but can bust open a big play with his ability to cut and change direction at full speed. Opens up body for direct hits when running with high pad level. Struggles to break consistent first contact. Lacks lower-body power. Can spilt out as a receiver, showing his versatility but needs to improve on catching the football with his hands, not the body. Overall, Golden projects as a situational type of back, giving energy to an offense with his great feet and elusive yet decisive running style. Shows that he could fit in a spread offense, lining up in the backfield or spilt out wide. FCS level or potential mid-major type back with improved size and speed."

Leon Hayes - S - 5'10 - 175 lbs - ESPN 1 Star Athlete - Grade (65) - Position Ranking - 185th - Desert Pines High School - Las Vegas, NV


"Hayes is a strong and determined back with good production. Has good body structure and a well-built frame. Sturdy, downhill runner who looks to get north quickly and can create some yards on his own. Runs square to the line and doesn't take a lot of wasted cuts. Burst when he gets a seam is solid. Bounces off initial contact and shows he can absorb a hit and keep forward momentum. Keeps his legs driving on contact, runs with low pad level and looks to finish but does not exhibit great power or balance. Ability to break first contact and solo tackles is inconsistent though. Balance is not a strong area. Sneaky extra gear in the second level but lacks great top-end speed and is not a burner or difference maker in the second level with speed or elusiveness. Is a bit stiff through his hips and for his downhill running style he lacks ideal size and power. Overall, Hayes is an inside runner without a lot of outside speed and open field elusiveness. The question is if he has the bulk and power to run between the tackles at college level and remain productive in an every-down role. Good get a look on defense at safety; the range, physicality and ball skills are."

Jake Larsen - QB - 6'3 - 205 lbs - (No star rating given) - Grade (45) - Position Ranking - NR - Coppell High School - Coppell, TX


"In his senior year at Coppell, Larson threw for 943 yards and seven touchdowns and completed 63.3 percent of his passes before the season-ending injury. As a junior, he played behind Joe Minden – who now is at Stephen F. Austin – but completed 18 of 23 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He completed an incredible 78.2 percent of his passes."

Mekale McKay - WR - 6'5 - 195 lbs - (No star rating given) - Grade (45) - Position Ranking - NR - Moore High School - Louisville, KY

McKay is outstanding athlete with great size and speed. He initially intended to play both football and basketball for the Miners, but recent reports have stated the McKay intends to concentrate on football only. That move could potentially be a deal breaker for the Miners as McKay is also holding scholarships from high major football programs including Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, and Cincinnati, along with with UCF and Marshall. McKay claims that he is still committed to UTEP, but he recently began taking visits to other schools. We'll only know whether he'll be a Miner or not when we get (or don't get) that LOI next week.

Dwayne Benjamin - WR - 6'4 - 195 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (68) - Position Ranking 256 - Northside High School - Lafayette, LA

Benjamin is a big strong possession receiver who lacks the burst or second gear necessary to get on top and separate when running deep routes. Has the size and athleticism for the wide receiver position at the next level of competition. It appears his frame could handle additional bulk over time provided speed and athleticism are not compromised. We don't see the acceleration necessary to pressure defensive backs when releasing off the ball; lacks the speed to get behind coverage however this prospect uses his size well. Does a very good job of gaining leverage and maintaining an advantage when in a crowd; doesn't get pushed around demonstrating the balance, agility and playing strength necessary to out muscle opponents when competing for jump balls. His hands look strong and natural; displays good concentration tracking and adjusting to high/low throws out of the frame. We see the courage needed to come inside, over the middle and take a hit to secure the catch. Although lacking big time speed, his after the catch toughness gains hard earned yards after contact; is an aggressive downfield/stalk blocker. Benjamin possesses the size and skills for success at the non BCS level of play.

Christian Harper - OG - 6'4 - 270 lbs - (No star rating given) - Grade (45) - Position Ranking - NR - North Shore High School - Galena Park, TX

Gino Bresolin - C - 6'2 - 270 lbs - (No star rating given) - Grade (45) - Position Ranking - NR - Eastlake High School - Sammamish, WA

Cooper Foster - OLB - 6'1 - 190 lbs - (No star rating given) - Grade (45) - Position Ranking - NR - Vista Ridge High School - Cedar Park, TX

On top of these confirmed commits, is reporting that the Miners also have commitments from 3 other players. **According to multiple sites, these players are still undeclared.

Garrett Simpson - QB - 6'5 - 230 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (73) - Position Ranking - 133rd - Colony High School - The Colony, TX


"Simpson does a good job running the spread offense from a shotgun set. Is accurate, getting the ball to his receivers on time and in stride. Has the size with enough athleticism for the quarterback position at the major level of competition. His tall frame should be able to handle additional body mass over time. This prospect is a drop back passer with the foot quickness needed to keep the ball alive and find throwing lanes when forced to move in the pocket; sets up with good balance and eyes downfield. Has a compact 3/4 delivery which enables him to get the ball out of his hand quickly and hit receivers on time and in stride; is a good ball handler, running play action and bootleg fakes which hold the defense while allowing him to get the ball to underneath receivers in a hurry; does a good job when forced to slide and avoid the rush showing the poise to handle the rush, doesn't panic and throw the ball into a crowd. Although lacking great arm strength, we see him get the ball over the top with the touch necessary to complete the medium/deep throw. Shows good accuracy getting the ball into tight spots when throwing short/medium balls but needs to improve the amount of zip he gets on the ball. This is a tough intelligent player who lacks the ability to consistently move the chains with his feet but is quite capable of taking his team down the field with his arm. Simpson may need some time and perhaps a red shirt year before competing for starting job."

Silas Firstley - DE - 6'0 - 226 lbs - (No star rating given) - Grade (40) - Position Ranking - NR - Poteet High School - Mesquite, TX

Prentiss Johnson - CB - 5'11 - 165 lbs - Jefferson High School - San Antonio, TX

Jaquan White - WR - 5'10 159 lbs - Lancaster High School - Lancaster, TX

Also of note, the following players took an official visit to UTEP over the week, and could still be giving commitments to the Miners.

Braden Meador - OT - 6'4 - 290 lbs - ESPN 3 Star Athlete - Grade (76) - Position Ranking - 115th - Montgomery High School - Montgomery, TX

Ernest Hawkins - OLB - 6'0 - 215 lbs - ESPN 2 Star Athlete - Grade (72) - Position Ranking - 150th - Dunbar High School - Baltimore, MD

Patrick Level - DB - 5'10 - 175 lbs - Roosevelt High School - Dallas, TX

Patrick Martin - DB