UTEP’s depth chart in a few spots remain a complete enigma, but Sean Kugler dropped a few facts about 2016 playing time that will be interesting to see develop as the season goes on.
First, Kugler named a backup running back after Saturday's scrimmage saying true freshman Quadraiz Wadley will see majority of the carries behind Aaron Jones.
“Behind Aaron Jones it will be a tailback by committee.” Sean Kugler said. “But Quadraiz will probably earn most of those carries.”
UTEP has built depth with bright-eyed youth at running back as you will see bruising runner Kevin Dove, and shifty speedster Tyrone Nelson fighting for carries behind Jones and Wadley according to Kugler.
But that’s not the only spot in where true freshman will play for UTEP in 2016.
“We’ve talked about it as a staff.” Kugler said. “We may have as many as 10 true freshman play.”
Staying on the offensive side, the aforementioned running backs will be in that mix along with former El Paso Andress wide receiver Eddie Sinegal who has wowed his way towards the top of the Miners wide receiver depth chart during camp.
“Eddie’s really come on strong in the last two weeks.” Kugler said. “He’s a true freshman, and has been out for a year and the main thing is getting in shape and getting stronger, and learning the tempo we request and he’s starting to understand that and now his natural abilities are coming out.”
On the defensive side, safety Kolbi McGary continues his strong camp, and steady upward movement on the defensive depth chart. He’s been a turnover forcing machine in camp so far, and has the physical attributes to immediately produce in C-USA.
You could also see defensive lineman Tiano Tialavea, and Denzel Chukwukelu on the field in back up roles at nose tackle. Tialavea is out with an injury at the moment, but expect him back in the mix once he returns.
Linebacker Sione Tupou is a future starter at linebacker, and was mentioned in the spring by defensive coordinator Tom Mason as another freshman to keep an eye on.
Outside linebacker and redshirt freshman Jayson VanHook saw some first team reps on Saturday as another possible reinforcement at OLB in UTEP’s new 3-4 defense.
Looking at another redshirt freshman in Gene Hopkins who will be in packages at defensive end this coming season.
Kugler said Walter Dawn Jr. could be UTEP’s kick returner. He could also possibly help in other spots as a slash offensive weapon as the season goes on (i.e. Warren Redix’s 2015 season).
“It really an outstanding class, physically its one of the best classes since we’ve been here.” Kugler said of the freshman. “Just a lot of explosive players, very pleased with the freshman class and their work ethnic, they’ve caught on quick to what were doing around here, and that’s what I’m excited about.”
Another name Kugler dropped with the highest of praise was El Paso’s Greg Long who worked with the third team offensive line in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Greg Long, I mean here’s a freshman lineman and he might end up being one of UTEP’s greats.” Kugler gushed. “This kid is athletic and nasty.”
Three of UTEP’s top rated recruits in the class of 2016 will be Prop 48 athletes this football season.
Running back Antonio Dupree, defensive end Keith Sullivan, and defensive back Joseph Pickney will take classes at UTEP this fall in order to become eligible for spring football 2017.
Pickney was originally headed to a JUCO, but will now enroll at UTEP. All three would need 24 credit hours accumulated in the fall in order to be academically ready for the spring.
Even with Rivals’ and 247Sports’ top three rated members of the Miners’ class of 2016 out of the picture for this season. UTEP’s major haul of under recruited gems, and productive high school players in the class of 2016 could play early dividends, and give UTEP fans names to remember for four years, and beyond.