Spring Football: Familiar Faces with Fresh Optimism (June 2021)

Spring football, forever and always, raises as many questions as it answers. After all, your team is playing vs. itself, like boxing in the mirror. 
Will UTEP field a winning team? For that matter, will the Miners be good enough to win a few games? Has the running attack improved, or did the defense show itself to be vulnerable? This much we know: 
The spring scrimmage showed more depth, notably in the front seven on defense. At quarterback, returning starter Gavin Hardison of Hobbs, N.M. and his backup Calvin Brownholtz from California both had bright moments. Both appear capable of leading a D-1 offense. 

Running back Quardraiz Wadley (L) and QB Gavin Hardison, shown here vs. Stephen F. Austin, look ready for break-out seasons. 

Thanks to NCAA granting an extra year to make up for games lost to the China Virus, both QBs have played some college football. Hardison, as a transfer from New Mexico Military, enters his third year of college ball, yet is listed as a redshirt sophomore.

Other spring flashbacks: 

  • At 245, Praise Amaewhule of Katy looks longer than 6-3. With his athleticism, Praise is developing into a legit D-1, pass-rushing defensive end.
  • Guard Bobby DeHaro, from El Paso Montwood, sat out the spring game with a minor injury. Coaches know what he can do. They say Bobby, at 6-4, 310, has tools that translate to the NFL.
  • Insiders say Deion Hankins, a short-yardage bull, has the size/speed/physicality package to one day play fullback on Sundays. 
  • Senior Quardraiz Wadley, the RB from Kennedale, missed most of last season with a toe injury. “Q” led the Miners in rushing in 2018, with 627 yards. In the spring game, he appears to have regained the quickness that befits his nickname. 

More specifics to come, after the players report in late July. For now, consider this off-the-record comment from a staffer: “I like this group. Good kids. 

“We’re better than we have been, especially depth in some key spots. Will that be enough to make us a (Conference USA) contender, or get us in a bowl game? I dunno. 

“We need a good start. Let’s win a few early, stay healthy and see where we go from there.”

The Miners showed enough promise during the spring football game to inspire guarded optimism for the 2021 season. 

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