UTEP’s Gypsy QB: Has Locksley Shot Himself in the Foot? Or, Weeded Himself Out? (June 2019)

By Mark S. McDonald, unauthorized railbird

You don’t need total recall to remember me asking UTEP football players and coaches for a quiet summer. To rally from the depths of Conference USA standings, what the Miners needed most — other than a pass-rush defensive end and a bouncy wide receiver — was to avoid controversy and public scrutiny. My greatest wish was for the athletes to train like Navy SEALs, and to reach Camp Ruidoso Aug. 5, without so much as an overdue library book.

So much for that summer in the shade, field-testing hammocks.

Kai Locksley

By now you have heard that UTEP quarterback Kai Locksley was arrested by El Paso authorities last weekend for a mixed bag of transgressions. Where to start? DUI, possession of weed, unlawful possession of a firearm and the ever-popular “terroristic threat.”

Not sure the definition of that last charge. It could mean that a young 6-4, 215-pound black man lipped off to a cop. All that will come out soon enough. I don’t want to get a penalty for piling on here, but what gives with this kid? He thinks my alma mater is Florida State? Or Miami?

For now, Miners Head Coach Dana Dimel’s hands are tied. He had to suspend Locksley from the team, while saying nothing to violate the kid’s civil rights: “…it would not be appropriate to determine a course of action until we have all the facts.”

Let me save everybody some time. Here are the facts about Mr. Locksley:

Kai Locksley
  • Victimized by an injury-decimated MASH unit of an offensive line last year, Kai missed three games with injuries of his own.
  • When semi-healthy, his performance ranged from lukewarm to El Stinko. His 3 TD passes vs. 9 interceptions invited in-house competition for his starting job last spring and going into camp.
  • Kai’s the oldest son of Michael Locksley, who fell to the occasion at New Mexico by posting a head coaching record of 3-31. Michael Locksley somehow landed the University of Maryland job, proving the interview skills of Barack Obama.
  • Kai always has his bags packed. Coming out of high school, Kai was a 4-star recruit. Signed at Texas, but didn’t play amidst questions about his commitment to football. He left Austin for a one-semester cup of coffee at Arizona Western, then it was on to Iowa Western. There, he revived his slumping stock by leading the team to an 11-1 mark.
  • Kai is said to run the 40 in 4.5 seconds. For a QB, he comes around faster than the next mortgage payment. During wind-sprints during training camp last August, however, Locksley was dead-ass last among QBs.

Kick-out: I leave the legal stuff to the attorneys, but I’m no stranger to a football locker room. Take it straight from one who has been there … Players don’t get involved in this garbage. Their schedule and tunnel vision do not allow them the luxury of personal opinions. Whether Locksley gets to stay is more hoo-haw to us fans than to the players. They will shrug this off, and plow forward.

But players recognize leadership, who provides it and who doesn’t. Teammates know who is genuinely committed, and who’s just putting on a skit. Players know. Always have, always will.

So what does Locksley’s brush with El Paso’s finest mean to the 2019 UTEP football team? Devastating blow, or addition by subtraction?

What is your best guess? Old #62 here predicts that come September, if and when a backup QB emerges — watch for Brandon Jones, my spies whisper — nobody will remember this incident. Nobody, that is, but Kai Locksley.

Someday, when he grows up, Kai will sit on a lonely bar stool staring into his mug of life, searching for a cure to self-inflicted wounds.   

{Author and publisher, McDonald is a UTEP journalism grad, two-year starter in football, and STILL loyal to the only alma mater he will ever have. Buy his most recent book, “Beyond The Big Shootout – 50 Years of Football’s Life Lessons” (343 pages, hardback, photos, cartoons: $29 + S&H = $35), at BeyondTheShootout.com. Makes an excellent gift for the history buff or sports fan on your gift list.}

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