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UTEP Football: Projecting UTEP's 2017 recruiting needs

Keeping two of El Paso's top three players in town for their college careers could become important for the class of 2017.

It's been a month since the class of 2016 was officially unveiled, now the attention turns to 2017.

UTEP has built up plenty of depth along the offensive and defensive lines in where the lineman count on both sides of the ball could be down compared to Kugler's first couple of full year recruiting classes.

Now with UTEP switching to a 3-4 defense, both inside and outside linebacker depth become a major priority not only for 2017, but possibly 2018 as well. How about a dominant pass rusher, anyone?

Wide receiver is another area that should be addressed in 2017 as the current group of wideouts are mostly veteran upperclassman who will be graduating after the next couple of seasons.

Sean Kugler could have as many as 18 scholarships for the class of 2017.

Here is what is projected to be targeted for 2017.

Linebacker

Current offers:

Anthony Hines, 5-star linebacker with over 80-offers

Kolton Lindeman, El Paso Americas

We could see a number of freshman line up at both inside and outside linebacker this year as UTEP transitions to a 3-4 defense.  The magic number for linebacker signees could be in the three-to-five range for 2017.  Hines is a long shot, but Lindeman could give UTEP a legit look but could also attract P5 offers as he's one of the top-5 2017 prospects in El Paso and has received P5 interest.  It seems UTEP has the depth to fill outside linebacker needs in the next two seasons, but will need to shore up depth on the inside behind Justen Tatum who figures to crack a starting role either this year, or in 2017.

Quarterback

Current offers: None

This is where Brent Pease will make his money, grabbing a quarterback he recruited, and develop him into something. UTEP will be in relatively good hands the next three seasons with three-possible starters all on the current quarterback depth chart.  2016 signee Mark Torrez could surprise some folks in a few years, but life after and a legit arm or two behind Leftwich, Metz, and Johnson will surely be explored in this recruiting class.

Tight End/WR

Current offers:

TE Griffin Sestili, North Allegheny, PA

UTEP currently has a number of solid blocking tight ends, but replacing the projected 2016 production from Hayden Plinke has to be a main target.  UTEP signed blocking ace Amorama Noel who will go the JUCO route this season, but the need for a pass catching tight end will be a major need.  Cole Ford looks to become a consistent tight end in the next couple of years, but depth outside of Ford in the coming years should be a concern.  Wide receiver is another area that should be addressed. Jaquan White will be a senior in 2016, and the corps will be veteran laden the next two seasons. Speedy slot guys, and good sized outside wideouts should be a main target.  It would be nice to grab a 6'3--6'5 wideout if possible.

Pass rusher

Current offers: None

Whether it's a hybrid end/linebacker, or a straight up rush end, UTEP desperately needs a stud pass rusher in the class of 2017. This list isn't in any order in terms of need, but right behind or inside the linebacker needs, a dominant or potential dominant pass rusher is an immediate need for 2017.  Keith Sullivan will need some help once Alvin Jones graduates, but UTEP will also usher in a few freshman who could also step up to the plate this season.  UTEP could also use some talented pass rushing beef in the middle for nose tackle depth in the future.

Offensive line

Current offers: None

UTEP has a few anchors along the offensive line for the next couple of seasons, but a project or definite stud or two who can use a year or two to fully develop could pay dividends down the road. UTEP has a lot of reserves who are sophomores or younger, so its not an area of immediate need, but could use 2 or 3 at the most for 2017.

Josh Fields, running back, El Paso Americas

The 2017 offers have been slow and a bit methodical so far, but the longest offered 2017 prospect should be a big priority.  UTEP shored up their running back depth in the class of 2016 for life after Aaron Jones.  But Josh Fields should be a main priority in UTEP's attempts to keep El Paso's top talent home.  In the national rankings, Fields would be considered the second best prospect from the 915 behind SMU commit Tyquez Hampton.  But no high school senior playing in El Paso County in 2016 will have more career production and experience like Field does.  He's been invited to some major camps and combines recently, meaning his recruiting stock could rise to new heights over the summer.  The current future at running back looks great, but Josh Fields in the backfield in Brent Pease's offense is a MUST.