UTEP upgraded is the new UTEP football hash tag the coaches floated around while finishing up the class of 2016.
That movement held more than true with the signings of running back Antonio Dupree, and 6'7, 255 pound defensive end Keith Sullivan who headlined the past few weeks worth of improved commitments for the class of 2016.
"Its a long process." Kugler said of the recruiting class. "In the end its very rewarding, but we want the guys that want to be Miners. We achieved the balance we wanted to on both sides of the ball. I also think we got a little more speed than we anticipated."
Sullivan is a Rivals three-star prospect who had offers from Texas Tech, Boise State, UTSA, and North Texas.
He was a three year varsity player at Aldine Davis in the Houston area, and recorded 8.5 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss this past season. Sullivan adds immediate size, strength, and some legit star power to UTEP's defense.
"He's a defensive lineman and a hybrid type." Sean Kugler said. "He's a guy who can stand up and rush the passer and lineup at defensive end. Once he fills his body there's no telling how big he's going to be."
UTEP has reached deep into the Houston area in this class, and pulled what some of our C-USA friends think to be one of C-USA's best signees for 2016 in Sullivan.
Sullivan also fits the versatile defensive lineman mold we should start seeing in the coming classes.
"I think you'll see a little change in the linemen signings because we have switched to a 3-4 defense in coach [Tom] Mason's scheme." Kugler said.
Every year under Kugler, there has been a head turning recruit who signs and shows up out of nowhere.
Antonio Dupree is that guy this year.
Dupree ran for 1,420 yards and 14-touchdowns last season, and is a 247Sports three-star prospect, and also ranks as 247's 31st best prospect from Maryland.
The combination of power, and explosion gives UTEP the power back they have been looking for at 5'11, 225 pounds. While he doesn't have blazing track speed, he appears to be a first down machine who has great burst and is hard to bring down.
A possible compliment to Aaron Jones next season, offensive coordinator Brent Pease will have a physical weapon who can move the chains, and also shows decent hands out of the backfield.
Sean Kugler indicated that at this point red-shirts, and gray-shirts have yet to be figured out, but two kids who figure to make an impact in the 2016 season could be Dupree, and Sullivan.
The signings of the talented duo prove much more than just shoring up future stardom in the backfield, and off the edge on defense. It also shows the coaching staff's eye for versatile talent with a number of 2016 signees.
"You're going to hear me talk about versatility - guys who have played on both sides of the ball, played different positions and guys who can do a lot for our team." Kugler said. "I always tell players the more you can do to help the team, the more successful we are going to be."
While Sullivan, and Dupree are the headliners, guys like Tiano Tiavalea, Quardraiz Wadley, Walter Dawn Jr., Jared Goldwire, Eric Foster, Tanner Stallings, Dylan Parsee, and Richie Rodriguez add to the #UTEPUpgraded mantra for the future.
The most impressive thing about picking up highly regarded players like Dupree and Sullivan is UTEP went into Houston, and Baltimore, Maryland, wowed these highly regarded kids on their visits, and made them Miners.
Stuff that usually doesn't happen at UTEP.
Now in all honesty, we won't know the total value of the class of 2016 for another three or four years. But the fact that Sean Kugler can go into hot bed areas like a Houston or a Baltimore, Maryland, find a top level talent, and court them into committing to be Miners is a big step in where Kugler wants to take the program.
We all know how tough it is for UTEP to draw four or five star talent to El Paso, but those with doubts on Kugler's recruiting should take note in how these two Ultimate Pick Ups can change how UTEP is perceived on the recruiting trail in the future.
Once again, the true litmus test of how good this class, and players will be won't be seen for another couple of seasons. But Sean Kugler and his staff certainly turned heads with not only these two signings, but a deep class with speed, stars, and projects who all have FBS level potential.
The right pick up can make all the difference to a program. Same goes for your rental car experience. Pick Enterprise and see how we go the extra mile for our customers every day.