We lost a good one when former wide receiver Ed Puishes died late this week in his Central Texas home after a long illness. He was 69.
A three-year letterman at UTEP and one of the conference leaders in pass receptions, Puishes (rhymes with “bushes”) still ranks No. 8 in school history for total receptions with 138. While the Miners competed in the old Western Athletic Conference vs. Arizona, Utah, BYU, Arizona State, Eddie caught 55 balls in 1969 and 57 in ’70.
Puishes came to UTEP a highly decorated but undersized high school running back from Devine Child in the Detroit suburban of Dearborn. First week in El Paso, coaches moved the 5-11, 170-pounder to WR. Our QB Bill Craigo was the most immediate beneficiary of Eddie’s sure hands and route-running ability.
To this day, teammates marvel at Eddie’s field awareness and his uncanny knack for make sharp cuts, hardly breaking stride. Puishes was a Chuck Hughes-type possession reciver who liked to watch Texas Western Hall of Famer with the NF Jets, Don Maynard, navigate rival defenses. With Eddie’s keen hand-eye coordination and agility, it is no surprise that in high school, he excelled in ice hockey and baseball.
Off the record: As his roommate on team road trips, I most remember his quickness and will to win. He barely survived our freshman year when he took a daily beating from our varsity defensive backs – all bound for at least a cup of coffee in the NFL. Eddie wore a high-grade, now-illegal “clothesline” from Grady Cavness for a necktie.
Until Puishes showed up, Miners Hall never housed an athlete who could smoke unfiltered cigarettes, yet never seem to be short of breath during wind sprints. Eddie was probably the best pick-up basketball player on the football team, and certainly our unofficial off-season racquetball champ.
It will surprise no one that later, Puishes played flag football with El Paso has-beens and became a competitive golfer at Coronado Country Club. After moving to the Burnet area from El Paso, Eddie developed into a tournament-level pickleball player. Like most bass anglers, he fancied himself an all-star fisherman.
Popular with former teammates and El Pasoans, Puishes is survived by his wife Meloni, and three children.
Word of Eddie’s death was a prairie wildfire as it spread through the Orange Nation. We Miners forever miss him already. — By Mark S. McDonald, Undocumented UTEP Football Outsider