RUIDOSO, N.M. – The UTEP Miners spent two hours on the practice field outside the MCM Eleganté Lodge & Resort on Monday morning in what kicked off a week-long experience for head coach Dana Dimel and his football team in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
What has been evident in the first few days of fall camp is the leadership coming from one particular position for the Miners – quarterback.
For the first time in quite a while, senior quarterback Brandon Jones enters the 2019 campaign as somewhat of a seasoned veteran and has taken the reins on the offense as evident by the first few practices of fall camp.
“I’m just trying to get ready for Week 1 and taking it one day at a time getting better,” Jones said. “My job is to lead this offense and the whole team. I have kind of been thrust into that role and I love it. I am running with it. It is about becoming a leader for the whole team, not just the offense or among the quarterbacks, but the whole team.”
The road to El Paso was never cut and dry for Jones, who bounced around a good bit during his career before a solid redshirt sophomore season at Bakersfield College in his hometown set him up to become a Miner.
Entering the 2018 season, Jones was third on the depth chart for UTEP, but eventually saw action in six games for the Miners last season following a slew of injuries at the quarterback position.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t have any offers, but I played pretty well,” Jones said of his journey to becoming a Miner. “I went to junior college, then to a four-year, then back to junior college before ending up here. It has been a three-, four-year process just to get here, but God has been faithful through it all. It has been hard at times, but at the end of the day, I made it here with my teammates and I love it. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
Fast forward to fall camp ahead of the 2019 season and the Bakersfield product is now taking control of the Miner offense after a long journey, but Jones credits his work this past offseason that paid dividends for the upcoming campaign.
“My focus in the offseason was just being a better quarterback overall with making the right throws, making the right reads and getting my feet better,” he said. “It was a little bit of everything. You look at last season and we just have to be better all around, so I took that on myself and said I have to be better in every aspect.”
Thus far this fall, Jones is leading the charge for a quarterback room that is packed with a total of seven guys vying for one spot and competing day in and day out leading up to the Aug. 31 opener versus Houston Baptist in the Sun Bowl.
“If you don’t have guys competing every day, your team is not going to get any better,” Jones said. “We have guys here who are pushing me every day and we are pushing each other. I think that is how you get the most out of somebody is just pushing them to the limit and then push past that. That is what we are trying to do in the quarterback room to set the standard. We need to score more touchdowns. You score more points than the other team and you’ll win games. We need to execute more as a total offense. If we do that, we are going to be in good shape.”
The Miners return to the practice fields at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the MCM Eleganté Lodge & Resort in Ruidoso, New Mexico. UTEP will practice in Ruidoso for the next five mornings before heading back to campus on Sunday.
UTEP Football Season Tickets are on sale now and prices have been reduced at all levels from the 2018 season. The UTEP Season Ticket Office is located at Brumbelow Building Room 109 (next to the Don Haskins Center). Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online or by calling (915) 747-6150.
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