UTEP released their game day depth chart for Saturday’s season opener on Wednesday.
Let’s look at some of the highlights, and position battles from camp.
Grad transfer Logan Tuley-Tillman will start at left tackle, with Greg Long right behind him, but Long is also listed at the top of the right tackle spot, meaning him and Jerrod Brooks will platoon those roles.
- Left Guard
El Paso’s Markos Lujan will be Will Hernandez’s backup at left guard. Huge step for the El Pasoan.
Freshman Tiano Tialavea has moved over from nose tackle, and will be a reserve guard this season along with JUCO transfer Bijan Hosseini. Derek Elmendorff will see majority of the snaps at right guard this season.
Terry Juniel is listed at the top, but Alan Busey will also see snaps, it will also be interesting to see how many snaps Eddie Sinegal sees in week one after missing most of camp.
Tyler Batson and Warren Redix will share snaps at the X, giving UTEP nice overall depth on the outside.
- Running back
The most talked about position will have a rotation of Walter Dawn Jr., Kevin Dove, and Josh Fields. Sean Kugler also said Ronald Awatt will see some work this weekend as well.
- Backup quarterback
Zack Greenlee will be the Miners backup, while Mark Torrez recovers from a minor injury, Torrez will not travel to Oklahoma according to Kugler.
- Tight Ends
UTEP will use a heavy tight end rotation with Josh Weeks, David Lucero, and Sterling Napier. In my opinion, there is not a “starter” at tight end, UTEP will utilize all three in different ways. Napier is the Miners main blocking tight end, while Weeks and Lucero will be heavily involved in the passing game.
UTEP has two true freshman who will start along the depth chart. Forest McKee looks to be Miners fullback for the next four years, and that is a really good thing.
- Defensive end
UTEP will have plenty of bodies rotating along the defensive line. Denzel Chukwukelu, and Luke Elser will start on opposite sides, but the Miners have plenty of package and sub-package options at defensive end.
- Nose tackle
True freshman Trace Mascorro is listed as the starter at nose tackle, rotating with Mike Sota and Sky Logan who can also move around to the edge.
Julian Jackson as expected is listed as the top, but senior Lawrence Montegut will certainly see snaps behind Jackson in sub-packages.
Dylan Parsee is listed as the starter, and Jayson VanHook will be out for the Oklahoma game so all eyes will be on JUCO transfer Kalaii Griffin who will platoon with Parsee.
SMU transfer Jesse Montgomery will back up Nik Needham, while Justin Rogers will backup Kalon Beverly at the other corner. Alex Jean-Charles is another name you could see in the mix at corner.
Michael Lewis will start at the free safety, backed up by Kahani Smith who will be a big part of UTEP’s nickel packages. Devin Cockrell of course will man the strong safety spot with sophomore Jerrell Brown behind him
JUCO transfer Brady Viles will handle kickoffs, but Jason Filey is listed as the Miners place kicker. That could be interchangeable, and will be interesting to see who Kugler rolls out there for FG tries.
Terry Juniel will handle punts, Kenyan Foster and Warren Redix will handle kickoffs.
Other depth chart notes
UTEP lists nine defensive linemen for its three positions across the line of scrimmage and only one player is a senior. In total, UTEP has three freshman, two sophomores, and three juniors listed on the D-Line which could bode really well for the Miners next year, if they can show improvement this season.
True Freshman Trace Mascorro is starting at Nose Tackle. Kugler told the story on signing day of how UTEP offered Mascorro's teammate, Kobie Herring, first and how their high school coach called and asked Tom Mason to look at Mascorro also. The story goes that Mason took Mascorro's highlights to Kugler and they offered him that same day. Mascorro committed to UTEP and stayed committed for many months. Mascorro was initially found because of his teammate, now he is starting his first game as a true freshman. He was also some type of state powerlifting champion, much like Will Hernandez was back in High School.
Tiano Tialavea is a redshirt freshman who was moved from D-Line to O-Line, which could turn out to be a great move. He has already worked his way up to second team at guard. Will Hernandez also originally came to UTEP as a defensive line and Kugler moved him to the O-line early. Hopefully this move can have a similar type of success.