Each year, Sean Kugler has said he wants to target, and sign the best talent out of El Paso, and has followed through with that promise.
"It's exciting." Kugler said of recruiting El Paso. "We've said since day one El Paso is going to be the foundation of our recruiting. We're not just throwing out noise on that."
Kugler would continue on, "Our commitment is to keep El Paso kids at home. And we think there's pretty good football being played in El Paso. It has gotten better each year. El Paso teams are competing with teams outside of the El Paso region. The population has increased. The coaching is much better. I just think El Paso football is really going to benefit our program. A lot of these kids want to stay home and play in front of the home folks. There's nothing more special probably than having your folks in the stands and having your family in the stands and these kids take a lot of pride in that."
So who are the top players El Paso has to offer in the next two recruiting classes?
Here is a breakdown.
Christian Johnson, DE, Parkland, UTEP commit, MinerRush Star rating ***
So far Johnson is one of the main defensive headlines in UTEP's early class of 2016 commitments. Playing middle linebacker this season, the 6'3 250 pound athlete has two sacks and 25 tackles this season in his new role in Parkland's defense. His athletic ability and size scream production at the defensive end position in UTEP's defense. Johnson could help fill the void left by the graduating Roy Robertson-Harris, and could very well become one the pillars of the UTEP defense in the future.
Brannon Bullitt, WR, Chapin, UTEP commit, MinerRush Star rating ***
Bullitt has had a very strong start to his senior campaign for the Chapin Huskies. Bullitt went off for 239 yards and four touchdowns last week, and is averaging 159 receiving yards per game in his first four games of 2015. He has proven he is not just a bubble screen ace, as the 6'2, 200 pound wideout has 26 grabs this season from a different variety of down field routes. If it wasn't for a knee injury early in his prep career, Bullitt could have a few national stars next to his name, and some major offers.
Eric Foster, ATH/DB, Americas, UTEP commit, MinerRush Star rating **
Foster will play defensive back at UTEP, but is the Americas High School quarterback this fall. He has thrown for 229 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another 245 yards and three touchdowns in four games this season. At 6'1 with room to grow, Foster could immediately help UTEP's depth department in the secondary next season.
Tristan Cooper, DB/Athlete, Andress, Undecided, MinerRush Star rating **
One of the more unheralded FBS prospects in El Paso is Andress' versatile safety. Cooper has a 55 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown to go along with 22 tackles in first four games this season. Holding offers from UTEP, Texas State, and NMSU, Cooper has also accounted for 173 all-purpose yards for the Eagles. He is still undecided on his college future, but is a sure fire FBS prospect and would be another nice depth acquisition for UTEP's secondary.
Robert De Haro, DL, Montwood, UTEP commit, MinerRush Star rating **
De Haro is 6'4, 265 pounds, and is being viewed as a defensive tackle in his UTEP career. Helping ignite a resurgence at Montwood this year, De Haro is a major anchor on the Montwood offensive line, and has provided production on the other side of the line of scrimmage in his career as well. He fits the mold of a Kugler targeted lineman, size, good feet, and physicality you can't coach.
Notable 2016 prospects
Richie Rodriguez, WR, Eastwood
Cameron Covington, ATH, El Dorado
Josh Fields, RB, Americas, MinerRush Star rating ****
Three letters describe the Americas' junior star running back, WOW. His patience is almost Aaron Jones like, and his burst through the line of scrimmage is pretty advanced for a high school junior. UTEP is in a recruiting battle for Field's services with New Mexico and he also received some serious PAC-12 interest and is considered one of the top-60 players in the state for 2017.
Tyquez Hampton, WR/ATH, El Dorado, MinerRush Star rating ****
If you haven't heard about Tyquez Hapmton, you need to educate yourself, quick. The 6'2, 200 pound wideout is averaging 29.9 yards per catch this season in El Dorado's high powered offense. He ran for over 400 yards as a running back last year at Chapin, and has seem to found his FBS niche at receiver this season at El Dorado. Hampton also plays a bunch of other roles on offense as well and can also play defense as a defensive back. He shined at the Adidas 7-on-7 Championships last summer, and received interest and camp invites from Florida and TCU. I would consider Hampton as the best overall athlete to come out of El Paso since M.J. McFarland.
Kolton Lindeman, LB, Americas, MinerRush Star rating ***
Lindeman appeared on the scene last year as a sophomore, and has not disappointed this year as a junior. He is currently second on the team with 24 solo tackles, and has a sack and TFL so far this year. A number of PAC-12 schools have inquired about the 6'2, 235 pound tackle machine as his offers should start piling up after this season.
Xavier Williams, LB, Andress, MinerRush Star rating ***
Williams has been on varsity since his freshman year, and has followed up his strong sophomore campaign with a strong start to his junior year. He busted onto the FBS recruiting scene last year when he piled with 95 total tackles, and already has 53 tackles and five TFL's in four games this year. His lateral movement which leads into his burst on tackles is pretty defined at this young stage of his career, and he has plenty of room to grow on his 6'1, 235 pound frame.
Aaron Samaniego, QB, Riverside, MinerRush Star rating **
He may not be a household name around the city, but in the Lower Valley people know about the talented quarterback at Riverside High School. Samaniego (6'0, 180 lbs) threw for 2,127 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore last year and also had .461 batting average with an ERA of 2.32 on the baseball diamond. All he's done through four games in 2015 is throw for 976 yards with a completion percentage of 63 percent, and oh yeah...he already has 12 touchdowns through the air, and four on the ground. If an FBS coach from this region that needs a quarterback misses on Sameniego, well....