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Home | Tag Archives: miner football

Tag Archives: miner football

Paul and Alejandra Foster give $5.1m lead gift for Sun Bowl Renovation Project

A lead gift of $5.1 million by El Paso businessman and philanthropist Paul Foster and his wife, Alejandra De la Vega Foster, ensures the completion of the Sun Bowl Renovation Project.

“Paul and Alejandra have done so much for El Paso and for UTEP. Having their names on the tower will make us smile every time we walk into the Sun Bowl. We’re very thankful for their generosity,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson.

To recognize their incredible support, the structure housing the press box and the Hunt Family Sky Lounge in the iconic stadium will be renamed the Paul and Alejandra Foster Tower.

“We can’t thank Paul and Alejandra enough for their generosity and for their continued support of UTEP and UTEP Athletics,” said UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter.  “And, we can’t wait for our fans to experience the new and improved Sun Bowl!  Paul and Alejandra’s vision aligned with ours, and their dedication and kindness was absolutely critical to making the dream a reality.  The Paul and Alejandra Foster Tower will be gorgeous, and a centerpiece of this spectacular renovation.”

“We are pleased to be a part of the Sun Bowl renovation project, and proud to dedicate the Paul and Alejandra Foster Tower as part of this important initiative to give the Sun Bowl a new look and new amenities,” said Paul Foster.

“Alejandra and I try to focus much of our civic and charitable giving on effective, sustainable quality-of-life projects.  The Sun Bowl has been a big part of El Paso’s quality of life for over 57 years, representing our City and public university in a very unique way.  We’re happy to be a part of renovating this iconic venue.”

The Foster gift is instrumental in the overall development of the Sun Bowl Renovation Project, including the installation of:

  • 499 outdoor club seats
  • 26 loge boxes
  • New 40-foot bar at the club level
  • Addition of club level outdoor pavilion
  • Creation of four suites (first-ever in the Sun Bowl)
  • New HVAC and updated audio visual capabilities in the press box
  • Updated tower façade
  • New premium seating and hospitality entrance
  • Renovated restrooms and concessions at the club level

Mr. Foster is the President of Franklin Mountain Management, LLC and Chairman of Franklin Mountain Energy, LLC. He is the founder and former Executive Chairman of Western Refining Company, Inc. and former Chairman of Western Refining Logistics, LP.  He serves as a director on the boards of Franklin Mountain Capital, LLC, Franklin Mountain Energy, LLC, Jordan Foster Construction, Vomaris Innovations, Inc., and WestStar Bank.  He also serves on the Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees.

He served as the Chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents for four years and served as its Vice Chairman for eight years.  He also served as the Chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) and the University of Texas System’s University Lands Advisory Board. He is a past member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Business Leadership Council.  He served for six years on the El Paso Branch Board of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and was the founding Chairman of El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDCo).

Mr. Foster now serves on the Executive Committee of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance and is a member of the World Presidents’ Organization.  In the early 2000’s, he became the leading catalyst in the revitalization of El Paso’s Downtown, purchasing and restoring several historic buildings in what is now called the Mills Plaza District.

In 2019, he purchased twelve additional buildings and land parcels in Downtown El Paso.  His most recent project is the restoration of the 89-year-old Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park, a landmark in the City’s center, which opened in June 2020.

Mr. Foster has received the Baylor University Distinguished Alumni Award, was inducted into the 2013 Class of the Texas Business Hall of Fame, and in 2007 and 2013 was presented with the City of El Paso’s highest honor, the Conquistador Award.  He was named El Pasoan of the Year twice, inducted into the El Paso Business Hall of Fame, and was named as El Paso’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

Together, Mr. and Mrs. Foster are philanthropists and major supporters of the Borderplex cities of El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. They are co-founders of MountainStar Sports Group, co-owners of the El Paso Chihuahuas Triple-A Baseball team, the FC Juarez Bravos Liga MX Soccer club, and the El Paso Locomotive United Soccer League club.

Mrs. De la Vega Foster is Vice President of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera, a company that operates convenience stores in the City of Juarez, and northern Chihuahua, Mexico.  A businesswoman and entrepreneur, she also owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juarez and holds the franchise rights for La Madeleine Country French Café in El Paso, Texas, southern New Mexico, and Arizona markets.  She is President of the Board of FC Juarez Bravos Liga MX Soccer club.

In 2016, Mrs. De la Vega Foster was appointed by the Governor of the State of Chihuahua, Mexico to serve as Secretary of Innovation and Economic Development for the electoral period of 2016-2021.

 Actively involved on both sides of the border, Mrs. De la Vega serves or has served on numerous business, civic, and charitable boards and committees.  She is currently a member of the Governing Board of The Hospitals of Providence Memorial and Sierra Campuses in El Paso and a member of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors in Houston.  She is actively involved in Desarrollo Economico de Juarez, serves as Co-Chair of the Borderplex Regional Economic Alliance and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Paso Del Norte Chapter.

Mrs. De la Vega previously served on the board of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) Ciudad Juarez Campus, was secretary of the board of La Rodadora Children’s Museum in Juarez, and was a board member of the FEMAP Foundation, an organization established to raise the quality of life among the people living in poverty in Mexico.

Four members of UTEP football squad test positive for Covid-19; Officials postpone start of football practice

Director of Athletics Jim Senter and head football coach Dana Dimel announced on Sunday that the start of UTEP’s preseason football practice has been postponed.

Via a news release, school officials shared that, “out of safety considerations for all parties,” the entire football team (student-athletes, coaches and staff) was tested for COVID-19 on Thursday, August 6.

As a result of the testing, school officials say that four members of the football program, all student-athletes, have tested positive for COVID-19; all were asymptomatic.  These student-athletes, plus their roommates, have been placed into a 14-day quarantine retroactive to Saturday, August 8.

The rest of the team, including student-athletes, coaches and staff, entered a five-day quarantine retroactive to Saturday, August 8 at the recommendation of team medical personnel and will be retested on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Once results are received from the retest on Wednesday, a determination will be made on when practices will begin.

“It was important to us that we tested everybody before beginning contact drills.  We have protocols in place and we are following them.  We are testing and the testing is doing what it was intended to do – identify asymptomatic individuals who are positive, UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter shared. “We are doing everything that we can to mitigate the spread of the disease.  While we have to put our entire team in quarantine for five days, the safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff is the top priority.”

Only partial results were available on Saturday, causing Sunday’s practice to be cancelled.  The remaining results were obtained on Sunday.

“I am fully supportive of the recommendations of our Sports Medicine personnel and team doctors.  We can’t wait to resume preparations for our fall season, but safety comes first,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said.

UTEP officials add that the Larry K. Durham Sports Center, which houses the athletic training room, football locker room, strength and conditioning center and football coaches’ offices, will be closed for extensive cleaning on Monday, August 10.

UTEP Defensive Coordinator Mike Cox Guests on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

This week, “Voice of the Miners,” Jon Teicher, sits down with UTEP Defensive Coordinator Mike Cox in this week’s episode of the “Picks Up Podcast.”

Cox gives updates on the Miner football team as it continues preparations for the 2020 season.

A 32-year coaching veteran who has been prominent in the preparation of NFL prospects, Mike Cox enters his third season as UTEP’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Dana Dimel in 2020.

Cox installed an aggressive and physical defense to the program.

In 2019, the Miner stop troops featured a second team All-Conference USA defensive end (senior Denzel Chukwukelu) as well as a burgeoning prospect in defensive end Praise Amaewhule, who made the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.

Junior cornerback Josh Caldwell registered 11 pass breakups, tied for the eighth-most in a season in school history.  Meanwhile, senior safety Justin Rogers became the first UTEP player to record an interception in four separate seasons since future NFL standout Quintin Demps achieved the feat from 2004-07.

The weekly “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

Miner Star, Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones appears on This Week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

Former UTEP standout and Green Bay Packers starting tailback Aaron Jones is the guest on this week’s edition of the “Picks Up Podcast” with Jon Teicher.

Jones, who grew up in El Paso and starred at Burges High School, talks about navigating the COVID pandemic and preparing for the 2020 NFL campaign.

While at UTEP, Jones became UTEP’s all-time leading rusher with 4,114 yards, ranks seventh on the Conference USA all-time rushing list and broke John Harvey’s 28-year old record after rushing for a program single-season best 1,773 yards

Jones set the program record by rushing for 100-plus yards in 17 career games, 33 rushing touchdowns during career ranks second in program history behind Harvey (42 touchdowns) and registered a program-best 200-plus yards rushing in five career games.

He is only third Miner ever to produce multiple 1,000-yard seasons, has 240 career points (40 total touchdowns) and registered 100-plus yards during a single half 13 times during career.

Jones also recorded 100-plus yards during a single quarter six times during career and produced multiple touchdowns in 14 career games.

The weekly “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

Three Miners named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-C-USA Team

UTEP had three players selected to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-Conference USA teams, the 2020 College Football Preview magazine announced on Monday.

Duron Lowe led the way after being selected as a third team kick returner and fourth team defensive back. Bobby DeHaro (OL) and Jacob Cowing also represented the Miners on the magazine’s fourth team.

Lowe earned All-Conference USA Honorable Mention accolades as a kick returner in 2019. He returned 11 kickoffs for 281 yards with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at North Texas. Lowe’s average of 25.5 yards per return led the team as he became just the fifth Miner in history to post a 100-yard kickoff return.

Defensively, Lowe started 11 games in the secondary in his first season as a Miner. He notched 25 tackles (20 solo) with the second-most pass breakups on the squad with six. Lowe also added a forced fumble during the 2019 season.

Cowing saw action in every game as a freshman for the Miners, while making seven starts during his rookie campaign. Cowing led UTEP in receiving yards (550), touchdown catches (3), yards per game (45.8) and yards per reception (17.7) as a true freshman.

Additionally, Cowing led all Conference USA freshmen and ranked No. 13 nationally among freshmen wide receivers with 550 yards. He came on strong late in the season with 441 receiving yards over the final six contests with an average of 73.5 yards per game.

Cowing also set a UTEP freshman record with 145 receiving yards against Charlotte and ranked 37th in the nation and seventh in C-USA in yards per reception. He at least one reception in all but one game a season ago.

DeHaro earned All-Conference USA Honorable Mention for the second consecutive season in 2019 after starting every game for the Miners at left guard. He helped pave the way for a UTEP rushing attack that averaged 138.2 yards per game. He also led an offensive line that guided the Miners to 18 rushing touchdowns on the season.

DeHaro was part of an offensive unit that ranked seventh nationally and first in Conference USA in fourth down percentage.

The Miners are scheduled to open the 2020 campaign at home against Texas Tech on Sept. 5. UTEP will also face NM State (Sept. 26), Southern Miss (Oct. 17), North Texas (Oct. 31), FIU (Nov. 7) and UAB (Nov. 21) in the Sun Bowl.

Season tickets for the 2020 UTEP Football season are on sale now and start as low as $65. Also available for purchase are the new premium seats in the Sun Bowl, which include outdoor club seats, loge boxes and indoor club seats.

For more information, visit the UTEP ticket page, call (915) 747-UTEP, or email tickets@utep.edu.

UTEP Athletics instituting Clear Bag Policy for 2020 Football Season

UTEP Athletics will be implementing a clear bag policy for all six 2020 football home games, and continuing throughout the 2020-21 athletic year including men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, soccer and softball.

The new policy is designed to expedite entry, increase safety and limit the physical contact associated with traditional bag searches.

The policy will also help to enforce social distancing protocols at security checkpoints.

Ticket holders, including children, will be allowed to enter with bags provided they meet one of these specifications:

  • Bags (including clear backpacks) that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″
  • One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar)
  • Small clutch bag approximately the size of a hand (4.5″ x 6.5″ or smaller), with or without a handle or strap. This can be carried separately or within a plastic bag
  • Medical bags that contain health necessary items are acceptable after proper inspection and approval from venue personnel/security

Fans are encouraged to only bring necessary items into UTEP Athletics venues.

The following items are prohibited and cannot be taken into the venue.  These items would either need to be disposed of, or returned to the fan’s car or residence before entering the venue:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Animals (service dogs or service dogs in training permitted)
  • Artificial noisemakers
  • Balloons
  • Bats, poles and sticks
  • Car seats and baby strollers
  • Coolers/ice chests
  • Camera lenses larger than 4″
  • E-cigarettes
  • Firearms and fireworks
  • Flags on poles
  • Glass bottles
  • Illegal drugs
  • Laser pointers
  • Lawn chairs
  • Missile-like objects
  • Objects that can be used as projectiles (i.e. balls)
  • Outside food and beverages including alcohol (exceptions will be made for those with medical requirements and/or special needs)
  • Scooters, strollers, bicycles, roller skates and skateboards
  • Tobacco products
  • Tripods, monopods and selfie sticks
  • Umbrellas
  • Unauthorized video cameras and drones
  • Water bottles (one sealed, plastic water bottle permitted per patron)
  • Weapons
  • Any object that might pose a risk to the guest or others.

CLEAR BAG POLICY FAQ

Why is UTEP Athletics implementing this policy?

UTEP Athletics regularly evaluates existing policies, practices, and procedures to determine its level of compliance with industry recognized best practices.  We determined that a revision of the policy was necessary in order to continue providing our fans the safest and most enjoyable experience.  World events continue to shape the methods utilized for venue security within UTEP Athletics and the Event Management industry.

How is the new policy more convenient for fans?

The clear bags will enable security to move fans through checkpoints much faster than in the past.  A standard size bag eliminates the need for bag templates to check bag sizes.  Clear bags allow staff to be more efficient and effective in keeping you safe by preventing dangerous items from entering the venue.

How does the new policy improve public safety?

The clear bag is easily and quickly searched and greatly reduces faulty bag searches.

How many bags can a person bring into the venue?

Each ticketed guest is permitted to bring one large clear bag, either the 12″ x 6″ x 12″ clear bag or a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag, plus a small clutch purse (5″ x 7″).  The small clutch allows privacy for small personal items and can be easily searched.

What about diaper bags?

Everything that you would put into a diaper bag must now be carried in a clear bag.  Each member of a family, including children, is allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the venue.

Can seat cushions be carried into the venue?

Seat cushions and chair backs are permissible.  Seat cushions must be 16″ in width or less.

Can fans bring blankets during cold weather?

Yes, they may bring blankets into the venue by carrying them over a shoulder or arm. These items can be screened easily.

What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?

Guests carrying bags that do not meet specifications will be asked to return them to their vehicles.

Fans parking in remote lots and/or taking alternate forms of transportation to UTEP Athletics facilities should consult UTEP Game Day policies and procedures prior to arrival in order to minimize inconveniences.

If I have items that I need to bring into the venue for medical purposes and they won’t fit in the clear bag, what do I do?

Exceptions will be made for fans with approved medical needs.  Medically necessary bags or equipment brought into a venue will be inspected and tagged by security.

For questions about medical equipment or other needs, please call the UTEP Special Events Office at (915) 747-5481.

Do I have to put everything I’m carrying into the permissible bags?

No. Limitations have been placed on the type of bags carried into the venue, not the items that are permissible. Guest can continue to carry items such as keys, makeup, women’s products, combs, phones, wallets, credit cards, cameras, binoculars, etc., in their hands or pockets if they choose not to place them in a clear bag or clutch purse (5″ x 7″). Guests can carry a blanket over their shoulders, and binoculars and/or cameras around their necks or in their hands without the case.  Guests can also carry any personal items that meet the specified criteria in the clear bag or clutch purse.

Will clear bags with patterns or oversized logos be permitted?

No.  These types of bags are prohibited as they can jeopardize the screening process by not allowing security staff to view through and inside of the bag.

NOTE: Other Conference USA institutions who have established a Clear Bag Policy include Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, UAB, UTSA and WKU.  UTEP Athletics recommends that fans traveling to other venues consult the host school’s game day policies and procedures.

UTEP Senior Running Back Quardraiz Wadley checks in for this week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

UTEP Senior Running Back Quardraiz Wadley is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

Wadley  rushed for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns for the Miners over three seasons from 2016-18.  In 2018, he put together a career year, gaining 627 yards on 123 carries with seven scores.  He also once rushed for 156 yards at Army and 111 yards versus I-10 rival NM State.

Then, his senior season, originally scheduled to take place in 2019, was washed away due to a toe injury that he suffered in offseason workouts last July.

Now, Teicher talks with Wadley about the upcoming season, his recovery and much more.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else and airs weekly on www.utepminers.com.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

UTEP Athletics announces student-athlete re-entry plan; Phased voluntary workouts begin June 15

UTEP student-athletes will return to campus for voluntary workouts in phases beginning on June 15, Director of Athletics Jim Senter announced on Thursday.

“It is important for us to bring student-athletes back to campus in a thoughtful and deliberate fashion, one that ensures we are following best practices and meeting CDC guidelines for the sake of everyone’s health and safety,” Senter said.  “We know that until a vaccine is developed, we will have to live with the virus and must learn to mitigate the risk of catching it.  Bringing Miner student-athletes back to campus is a huge step toward achieving some sense of normalcy.”

The first group of student-athletes returning to campus for voluntary workouts on June 15 will represent football and will number approximately 45.

The football numbers will gradually increase during the months of June and July.

Limited numbers of student-athletes from cross country, soccer and volleyball will be integrated for voluntary workouts beginning the week of June 22.  Limited numbers of student-athletes from men’s and women’s basketball and track and field will be integrated for voluntary workouts beginning the week of June 29.

Student-athletes from all other sports will be eligible to return to campus for voluntary workouts starting the week of July 6.

Prior to returning to campus, all student-athletes will need to complete an online questionnaire asking if they have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms over the last three months.  All student-athletes will also need to undergo a physical on campus before beginning voluntary workouts.

The Athletics Executive Team has been working with head coaches, Sports Medicine Staff and Strength and Conditioning Staff to perform an analysis of all facilities and determine organization of voluntary workouts including student-athlete ingress/egress, maximum capacity per area to ensure that social distancing is being practiced, and other safety protocols.

All student-athletes will undergo a daily wellness screening prior to entering athletics facilities, at which time their temperature will be taken and they will be asked recommended medical questions.

Student-athletes who pass the screening will receive a different colored bracelet each day that they will need to wear to gain access to the facility.

Student-athletes will be split into groups to ensure that social distancing is being practiced at all times.  Student-athletes will be required to wear a face mask when inside all athletics facilities.  Student-athletes will not need to wear a face mask for outdoor workouts provided social distancing is being practiced.

All facilities will be marked with signage to specify COVID-19 symptoms, how to guard against contracting the virus, social distancing protocols, entrance and exit points.  Access to the training room and coaches’ offices will be by appointment only and locker room access will be limited to small groups for short periods of time.

Social distancing will be practiced in all areas, including the weight room.

While in the weight room, student-athletes will be required to bring their own water bottle and will not share with others.  All strength and conditioning voluntary workouts will limit the sharing of equipment, and all equipment will be sanitized following each use.

Equipment managers will wash face masks daily following voluntary workouts.  Each student-athlete will receive two face masks, one for the day’s workout and the other for the next day’s workout.  All facilities will be cleaned/sanitized following the departure of each group of student-athletes.

Any student-athlete who is ill and/or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 is required to refrain from entering athletics facilities and contact Sports Medicine personnel immediately for testing.

All student-athletes or staff who test positive for COVID-19, along with those they have come into immediate contact with, will be subject to mandatory quarantine based on CDC guidelines.

Per NCAA rules, only strength and conditioning coaches and Sports Medicine personnel (athletic trainers) are permitted to observe voluntary workouts.  It is impermissible for sports coaches and staff, as well as media members, to attend voluntary workouts.

Super Bowl Champion Head Coach Andy Reid guests on the “Picks Up Podcast”

This week’s “Picks Up Podcast” features a very special visitor: Super Bowl Champion Head Coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs.

In this week’s installment, coach Reid – a former assistant coach at UTEP in the ’80s – talks about his prolific career, including guiding the Chiefs to a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV earlier this year.

Hosted by “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher, the podcast airs weekly on www.utepminers.com, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

Legendary Miner Running Back Fred Wendt passes away

All-American running back Fred Wendt, who set UTEP records with 326 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns versus New Mexico State on November 25, 1948, has passed away.

Wendt died on Monday (May 18), just two months shy of his 96th birthday.  He was born on July 15, 1924 in Las Cruces.

He attended school in Lubbock and Amarillo before moving to El Paso in 1938.  He graduated from Austin High School in 1942 before entering Texas College of Mines (now UTEP).  Wendt played for the Miners in 1942 and from 1946-48, sandwiched around a stint in the Army during World War II.  He lettered in track and football at Texas College of Mines.

Wendt’s college football career produced 283 carries for 2,166 yards and 23 touchdowns.  He ranks first in the Miner record book in yards per attempt (7.65), sixth in rushing touchdowns, and 10th in rushing yards.

Wendt rushed for 1,546 yards, the third-top seasonal output in school history, in 1948, while also setting the school standard with 20 rushing scores.  He rushed for 100+ yards eight times in a Miner uniform.

Upon graduation he held the NCAA record for single-season rushing yards, single-season scoring (152 points), single-game rushing (326 vs. NMSU) and single-game scoring (42 vs. NMSU).

He is one of only two Miners to rush for 300 yards in a game, alongside current Green Bay Packers star Aaron Jones, who achieved the feat with 301 yards versus North Texas in 2016.

Wendt’s record-breaking performance versus New Mexico State in 1948 resulted in a 92-7 Miner victory.  UTEP team records for points, touchdowns (14) and rushing yards (645) were established in that game and still stand to this day.

Wendt was also the Miners’ leading punter during the 1946, 1947 and 1948 seasons.

A two-time All-American (1947 and 1948), Wendt was inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.  He is also a member of the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was chosen as a member of the 75th Anniversary All Sun Bowl Team.  He rushed for a game-high 92 yards on 15 carries in the 1949 Sun Bowl Game versus West Virginia.

Wendt is survived by his wife of 70 years, Dorris, three daughters, and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.​

Jordan Palmer checks in for this Week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

Former UTEP star and quarterback guru Jordan Palmer is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

In this week’s installment, Palmer reflects on his time at UTEP, talks about his family and his current role of mentoring signal-callers.

The “Picks Up Podcast” airs weekly on www.utepminers.com, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, please visit the UTEP Miners podcast page.

UTEP Football Head Coach Dana Dimel joins Jon Teicher on “Picks Up Podcast”

UTEP Football Head Coach Dana Dimel is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

In this week’s installment, coach Dimel discusses how he, his staff and team are preparing for the 2020 season with a large portion of the country sheltering at home due to COVID-19.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

The “Picks Up Podcast” airs weekly on www.utepminers.com, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

UTEP’s Baechle leaving kicking game on solid footing

The UTEP football team is facing a number of questions this spring.  Who is the starting quarterback?  How will a host of junior college transfers be integrated into the defense?  Will the defense be significantly better this fall?  One question that isn’t being asked, however, is if the Miners have a reliable field goal and extra point kicker.

The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

Gavin Baechle has been nothing short of sensational in his first two years in the Orange and Blue.  As a freshman in 2018, he handled kickoffs and rated second in Conference USA with a 63.9 average.  Then, a year ago, he added field goals and PATs to his list of responsibilities and fared well.  He converted 13-of-16 field goal tries and was automatic (8-for-8) from inside 40 yards, as well as a perfect 22-for-22 on point after attempts.

“I was really happy with what I did on field goals,” he said.  “We went from the bottom of Conference USA [in 2018] to fifth or sixth, which was definitely a big improvement.  Last year I was a little affected doing both [kickoffs and field goals] because after the fifth or sixth game, I did something to my groin and my kickoffs weren’t as good as they were the year before.  I just had to work through that.  By the end of the season, I was basically back to where I was.”

Baechle finished the 2019 season with 42 kickoffs averaging 57.5 yards, and 22 touchbacks.

If there was a hole in Baechle’s game, he was 0-for-3 on field goals of 47+ yards (he was 13-for-13 from 46 yards or less).  He missed from 47 yards versus Texas Tech and NM State, and 50 yards against Rice.  He’s working on hitting consistently from distance this spring.

“The focus for me has definitely been longer field goals,” he said.  “We didn’t really do too many of those last fall.  Whenever we had a meeting, we talked about what I could work on.  And long field goals was one of the main points.  For kickoffs, it was basically about being more consistent and what I could do to stay healthy, which I wasn’t last year.”

One thing Baechle and his position coach, Joe Robinson, didn’t have to spend much time talking about was the punting game.  Mitchell Crawford was entrenched as the Miners’ punter the last two years, but he has left the program to use his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer at Michigan State.

You would imagine that Baechle taking over the punting duties this fall would not be an ideal situation.  But he’s ready for anything.

“I’m all for taking that role,” He said.  “You know what they say, if a man goes down, the next man has to step up and do it.  If it comes down to it, and even if [coach Dana Dimel] brings in a punter, I’m going to do my best to try to beat him out and take all three spots.”

Baechle is accustomed to doing it all – he handled every area of the kicking game as a prep at McKinney (Texas) High School.

“That’s pretty standard,” he said.  “So coming from there, I wanted to do all three [in college].  But, of course, we had a punter already.

“In high school, I punted every single year.  My freshman year, I was on the freshman team.  My sophomore year, I was on varsity.  I did all three and all three well.  For my junior and senior year, I got first team All-District for punting.  And then here [at UTEP], every year I’ve been Mitch’s backup.  So I’ve always had to be ready just in case anything was to happen.  I would still punt during practice, but not the games.  So I feel like if the time comes and I need to do it, I will be fine.”

Baechle punted 69 times in high school for 2,372 yards (34.4 avg.).  He averaged 36.5 yards on 31 punts as a senior in 2017.

Who knows if punting is in Baechle’s future.  But he’ll continue working hard this spring in order to be well prepared for the fall.

“I’m working on a lot of accuracy drills to make sure I still hit a straight ball and it goes through the uprights, whether it’s a long or short field goal,” He said.  “With kickoffs, I’m just trying to stay consistent, and be able to hit touchbacks like it’s nothing.  And if I have to punt this year, I just want to be able to put the ball wherever we need to, and help out the cover team as much as possible.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now.  Renewals will be accepted online until April 10 here, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, click here.

UTEP Secondary gets boost from return of injured starters

 The UTEP football team’s defensive struggles last season can be traced as much to who wasn’t on the field as to who was playing.

The safety position in particular was hard hit by injuries, as two projected starters entering fall camp, Broderick Harrell and Justin Prince, combined to appear in just four games.

Harrell hasn’t played in a game for the Miners since earning a start in the 2018 season finale against Southern Miss.  He suffered a torn Retinaculum in his ankle two weeks prior to the start of 2019 fall camp and missed the entire campaign.  Prince was on his way to a banner year (27 tackles in the first four games) last season before breaking his foot when it got caught in the turf on a goal line play at Southern Miss.

Following an intense rehab, Harrell and Prince are back this spring and have impressed the Miners’ new secondary and safeties coach, Josh Brown.

“Both of them are extremely hard workers,” Brown said.  “Both of them want to be great.  And when you want to be great and you have a work ethic, usually it turns out pretty good.”

Last year Harrell underwent surgery and was in a cast for eight weeks.  The ankle didn’t heal quite fast enough for him to return late in the season.

“It was hard on me because mentally I wanted to play,” he said.  “I had never missed a season like that.  I wanted to play with my brothers and I felt like I could help them out a lot.”

Prince had a wicked premonition that playing on the M.M. Roberts Stadium turf would bring disaster.

“I prefer grass but the crazy thing is, at the Friday walkthrough the day before the game, I said the field was pretty bad,” he said.  “So I wished a little bad luck on it and I paid the price.”

Prince managed to avoid surgery, but the recovery process was no less grueling and he’s still not quite at 100 percent (though he’s close).

“I spent a lot of time in the training room,” he said.  “That was basically my second home.

“I’ve played through injuries before, but this one really set me back.  I just knew I had to trust the process.”

Fortunately, Harrell and Prince could lean on one another during their year without football as both teammates and roommates.

“We’re similar; we like a lot of the same things,” Prince said.  “We look the same, we have the same stature [Harrell is 5-11, 210 pounds; Prince is 5-10, 200 pounds].  He got hurt first last year.  And then I got hurt.  It’s weird.  It was probably meant to be that we’re both on the field at the same time.”

“We both had a good spring last year and we both got hurt, so that brought us a little bit closer,” Harrell said.  “He’s my brother off the field.  I love him.”

Now, Harrell and Prince find themselves in the odd position of returning to the field and being thrust into the role of elder statesmen in the UTEP secondary.

“We’re basically the older guys with J. Rog [Justin Rogers] and Champ [Michael Lewis] out of the program now,” Prince said.  “So we have to bring the young guys up and set the example every day in the meeting room and on the practice field.”

Last year Harrell and Prince were understudies to Rogers, who became the first Miner to post an interception in four separate seasons since Quintin Demps (2004-07).

“He taught us how to be 100 percent accountable every day, and how to lead,” Harrell said.  “He studied the game like it was homework, like it was a book.”

“He’s really football smart and he was always teaching me the game,” Prince said.  “Just sitting next to him in film, asking questions all of the time and seeing what he saw on the field was huge.”

While they’re taking on more of a leadership role this year, Harrell and Prince are also continuing to learn from their new position coach Brown, who was formerly an accomplished defensive coordinator at Cal Poly.

“He’s a great guy,” Prince said.  “He’s trying to make things simpler for us.  He’s done a really good job with teaching us techniques that will make it easier in our coverages.”

“He’s taught me a lot in three weeks,” Harrell said.  “New techniques, but he also taught me to trust in myself more and believe that I’m a better athlete than the guy lined up across from me.”

Brown watched a lot of film on the 2019 Miners after accepting the job in early February.  It sounds like he’s got a good handle on his personnel after only five spring practices.

“As a secondary, the defensive backs in general, we need to improve on our man technique,” he said.  “I think they’re pretty good zone players, and we’ve gotten pretty good reactions and breaks off of the quarterback.  But our man technique has got to continue to get better, and we’ve got to continue learning how to play all the different combinations of man.”

Last year, UTEP’s pass break ups dropped from 41 to 33, and the Miners collected only five interceptions as a team for a second straight year.  Getting both of those numbers up will be paramount to an improved defensive effort in 2020.  Brown is fully aware of that, and he’s working on it.

“What we do every day before practice is we get out here and we do our wiffle ball drills,” he said.  “And all we’re working on is punchouts for 10 minutes with wiffle balls.  We’re up to 15 or 20 punchouts and five or six interceptions from just the safeties in five practices.  We’re keeping track of them and we’re making an emphasis of getting the ball out.  Pass breakups and interceptions are key to our success as a defense.”

The Miners are counting on vast defensive improvement this fall.  And if that happens, Harrell and Prince are sure to play a big part in it.

“No limits,” Harrell said.  “There aren’t any expectations and there are no limits.  We’re trying to blow it out of the water next year.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now;  renewals will be accepted online until April 10, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, click here.

Miners land reinforcements to help fix defense for 2020

UTEP was a solid defensive football team in 2018.  The Miners ranked fifth in Conference USA, allowing 198.9 passing yards per game.  Overall UTEP yielded 394.7 yards per contest, a number good enough to win with.

However, the defense fell on hard times in 2019 following the loss of playmakers like A.J. Hotchkins and Nik Needham.  UTEP surrendered 430.8 yards per game, the second-highest total in C-USA, and 35.9 yards per outing, last in the league.

“It was a combination of a lot of things,” UTEP defensive coordinator Mike Cox said.  “I didn’t coach good, we lost some key players, and we didn’t play right at times.  That’s the biggest thing that we’re emphasizing right now, to own up to our assignments and not bust ourselves.  We did that [in 2018].  We didn’t make our own busts, and we played ok.  That’s what we’ve got to get back to.  We’ve got to be very consistent.  And the emphasis this spring is to be consistent about our jobs, get off blocks and play with tenacity.”

If the Miners are going to improve their win-loss record in 2020, they’ll need to be able to stop people.  They struggled to do that a year ago, but they also lost some key personnel from that squad.

“In order to replace those guys, we went the junior college route and we were very lucky and very fortunate to get guys who could come right now rather than after the spring,” Cox said.  “So they’re all here and showing a lot of promise.  We needed these guys to get our depth back to where it needed to be.”

Specifically, the Miners brought in DB Dennis Barnes (Fort Scott CC), DB Verenzo Holmes (NW Mississippi CC), LB Tyrice Knight (Independence CC), DT Kelton Moss (Kilgore College), DT Keenan Stewart (Iowa Western CC), DE Jadrian Taylor (Kilgore College), LB Gary Theard (Chaffey College) and DE Deylon Williams (Independence CC).

“The thing that we liked about them, number one, is their character,” Cox said.  “We really emphasized the character of these guys, and then matched it with their athletic ability and the football playing side of it.  We really like all of the guys that we brought in.  First and foremost they’re great people, they’re hard workers and they can learn.  They’ve gone about all of this the right way.  And we’re proud of that.  The biggest thing that we’re trying to figure out is where they fit in with this defense.  That’s what we’re trying to do this spring, plug them in where they’re going to help us win.”

If the Miners are going to make major strides this fall, they’ll need several of their returning players to ramp up their production as well.  And Cox likes what he has seen from his core through two days of spring ball.

“The last couple of days, [cornerback] Duron Lowe has done a really nice job,” Cox said.  “He has really stepped up his game.  The same with [cornerback] Josh Caldwell.  I think having our two safeties back healthy means a lot.  We didn’t have two starters last year in [Broderick] Harrell and [Justin] Prince.  Getting them back has added some stability to that position.  [Linebacker] Stephen Forester is very consistent, and a great role model and leader for our team.  Those are the main guys, plus a couple of guys who played up front.  [Defensive Tackle] Josh Ortega brings great leadership.  So if all those guys continue to grow with the leadership part, we change our attitude on defense, play with a lot more tenacity and do things the right way, we’ll improve vastly.”

The Miners have also altered their approach to spring ball and their schematics to produce better results in 2020.  First of all, fans will see hitting and tackling in practice, something they didn’t a year ago at this time.

“Last year, we were concerned because we had been hit by injuries so much the year before.  That’s why I didn’t do it last year,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said.  “But this year, just watching how we tackled and our angles that we took on Saturdays, I thought it was better for us to get more live tackling.  I thought it would improve our tackling angles and our body positions on tackling.”

The Miners have also switched their base alignment from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

“One of our big goals is to create more pass rush and be able to get to the quarterback better,” Dimel said.  “We feel like by getting our guys spread out and covering up defensive linemen a little bit more, that we’re going to be able to create some pass rush angles for our defensive ends.”

All of this should add up to some spirited workouts this spring.

“I think coach Dimel decided that we’ve got to get more physical,” Cox said.  “We’re tackling and today you saw some 1’s versus 1’s [in practice].  The guys enjoy it I’m sure, and all we want to do is get better.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now.  Renewals will be accepted online until April 10 here, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit the UTEP Miners ticket page.

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