Seven Miners were recognized in the Dave Campbell’s All-Texas College Team.
The All-Texas team acknowledges the best college players in the state of Texas. Leading the way on offense is senior Hayden Plinke, who garnered first team honors. The tight end was named to the John Mackey Award watch list yesterday and ranked second on the team in receptions (37) and receiving yards (405) in 2015.
Earning second team honors is running back Aaron Jones, lineman Will Hernandez and kicker Jay Mattox. Jones also was named No. 7 on the 50 Most Important College Players in Texas list. After missing most of last season the junior returns this campaign looking for redemption. Jones currently ranks eighth on the program’s all-time rushing list and has accounted for 20 touchdowns in 23 games.
Hernandez is a two-year starter for the Miners and embodies the tough and physical unit that head coach Sean Kugler looks for when recruiting lineman. The junior was part of the line that led Conference USA in sacks allowed (12) and ranked tied sixth nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.0).
Mattox led UTEP with 68 points last season and connected on 15-of-19 field goal attempts and was 23-of-24 on PATs. The veteran kicker was also 6-for-6 on field goals 20-29 yards.
On defense, Alan Luna was named the Best Special Teams Player and received first team honors. The junior averaged 44.4 yards per punt (2,885 yards) on 65 boots. He tallied 21 punts of 50-plus yards and 15 punts inside the 20-yard line. Luna ranked tied second in Conference USA and tied 16th nationally in punting average last season.
Juniors Alvin Jones and Devin Cockrell were named on the second team. Jones also was chosen No. 38 on the 50 Most Important College Players in Texas list. In 2015, the linebacker led the team with 93 tackles (48s/45a), 14.5 tackles for loss (59 yards), 6.5 sacks (41 yards) and two safeties, while adding four quarterback hurries.
Cockrell missed all of last season with a knee injury but had an explosive season in 2014. He started in all 13 games and ranked third on the defense with 52 tackles (37 solo), second in tackles for loss (7.0 — 30 yards) with an interception, two sacks, two pass breakups and three quarterback hurries. Cockrell also was recognized on the 50 Most Important College Players in Texas list at No. 43.
UTEP will open the season on Sept. 3 at home versus I-10 rival NM State. Season tickets are on sale now for the Miners’ seven-game home schedule, which features a matchup with Army on Sept. 17. The UTEP season ticket office phone number is (915) 747-6150.