When Jordan Leslie bolted to BYU, Miner Nation was shocked and asked what now from the receivers?
While there are lot of unproven parts, the receiving core has plenty of upside.
Ian Hamilton was just flat out ridiculously consistent during camp, making all sorts of catches, across the middle, precise out routes, and of course he can Randy Moss any DB down field with his 6'5 stature he knows how to use.
Hamilton has high expectations to replace the production of the departed Leslie, after a hot start last year, I would expect Hamilton to live up to those expectations this year as his number will be called a bunch.
Kugler On Receivers:
"Ian Hamilton has nailed down his spot. He is the number one receiver at the z spot. At the x spot right now, Jarrad Shaw is going to start that game. I like his understanding of our system. He is a senior. He has gotten better in leadership. He has really matured over the last year. He has been consistent making plays in practice. I like the talent that is behind him with Batson and Moss. Those guys have not played in a game at the receiver position but they have a lot of talent. I want to make sure those guys have success. They will play and they will play early. Easing them into it will probably be the best process for us right now."
Opposite side of Hamilton, the starting X receiver will be Jarrad Shaw, though I would expect the number two or three receiver to be a by committee approach at least until someone breaks out in consistency or monster stats.
Freshman Tyler Batson was another receiver who had a solid camp, Batson has strong hands, and is the best pass catcher in tight coverage, and in traffic after Hamilton.
Batson could really be a star in the making if his camp performance transfers over to the game field.
El Pasoans Brandon Moss, and Cole Freytag are also in the mix at X, though Freytag is listed on the depth chart as a Z receiver he can play both. Malcolm Trail battled an ankle injury throughout camp but will be another player in the rotation.
Expect more three receiver sets with more motion and moving parts, UTEP is smaller size wize at receiver than in the past, but the speed I saw is encouraging.
A dark horse for an emerging star is sophomore Jaquan White.
White caught a tough fought TD pass in tight coverage during the spring game, and had another big TD catch when I was watching fall practice. Despite being only 5'11, he brings a physical approach with slot receiver speed.
White, Batson, and Moss are my picks for breakout seasons from the receivers.
Only 58 catches return from a year ago return within the returners in the receiving corps, though we all know the tight ends play a huge role in UTEP's offense.
Eric Tomlinson has been billed the best tight end in Conference USA rightfully so.
Tomlinson is the full package at tight end, blocking, route running, and catching the ball across the middle have stood out to me, he could be a 2015 NFL Draftee.
His 304 yards are most from a UTEP tight end since 2008 as were his 30 catches.
I could see Tomlinson improving those number, my projection: 40 catches 450 yards.
Another tight end who I have been waiting to breakout had a solid camp, senior Katrae Ford.
Jameill Showers looked really comfortable in passing drills finding the altheltic Ford, he figures to be the main number two tight end when UTEP goes double tight.
Ford only caught three passes last year, but he his a weapon who needs a touch or two a game becuase I feel he can give linebackers fits with his speed.
The main highlight that resonates in my memory from camp was freshman Ziere Banner making a highlight reel diving catch in 1 on 1 drills.
Banner drew praise from Kugler numerous times during camp interviews, and I think he will continue to improve his work on the field and become a factor down the road, while also growing into his 6'1 185 lb frame. Banner could also crack the lineup this season.
UTEP's two El Paso 2014 recruits Warren Redix and Eddie Sinegal can't also be forgotten, both are gray shirting and should be in the mix for a depth chart spot next spring.
Freshman Sterling Napier is listed third on the depth chart at tight end and should see playing time this season.
A huge addition to the future of the tight ends is Boise State and Portland State transfer Hayed Plinke. Plinke is a true H-back who will be a nice weapon in the passing and running game at fullback if needed.
Still plenty of questions remain about the depth, and possible production from the pass catching group, those will answered in less that 24 hours.
|"Z" Receiver Depth Chart|
|"X" Reciever Depth Chart|
|Tyler Batson-83 OR Brandon Moss-6|
|Tight End Depth Chart|