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UTEP Football: First day in pads sparks competition

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Alex Nicolas

UTEP strapped on the pads today for the first time in spring practice Friday morning, and the physicality and competition were in high gear between the defense and the offense.

Position group focus started the workout with the secondary group bringing some big hits in their technique work, then in the team sessions the offense and defense traded blows in an enjoyable to watch 40-minute team session.

A 7-on-7 drill started the team work, and senior linebacker Dante Lovilette set the tone early stepping in front of a Ryan Metz pass for a pick six. UTEP’s secondary took away most deep balls, and won the drill, but a freshman quarterback continues to show he belongs.

Mark Torrez continues his strong progression placing a beautiful deep ball to Walter Dawn up the right sidelines for a 40-yard gain in the 7-on-7 drill.

Quadraiz Wadley and the UTEP first team offensive line were sharp in the live and situational 11-on-11 scrimmage portion of the team work.

Wadley exploded on a pair of 10-yard-plus gains as the sophomore looks to lock in the bulk of the carries. Both runs came behind Will Hernandez who looked strong as always.

TK Powell suffered a lower leg injury during the live session, and was carted to the locker room after practice.

UTEP’s secondary was also very active in the 11-on-11 portion. Kalon Beverly, and Nik Needham each notched a pair of pass breakups in the team workouts, and Devin Cockrell was sticking his nose in plays which fired the defense.

There was some competitive chirping between the offense and defense between plays, and Tom Mason demanded leadership from his seniors during the spirited practice ahead of spring break.

Mason also played with the linebacking depth in terms of combinations. Freshman Sione Tupou linebacker made a few nice plays at the line of scrimmage, and El Paso’s rked at outside linebacker with the first team.

UTEP will take a week off next week for spring break, and resume the following week on the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule.

Check out some interviews after Friday’s practice

Ryan Metz

Tyler Batson

Warren Redix

Kavika Johnson

Devin Cockrell

Chuck Veliz