The 2000 Western Athletic Conference Champion Football Team, Jeep Jackson (men’s basketball), Tanja Magoc (tennis), Lee Mays (football), Holly Russ (women’s basketball) and Jami Tullius (soccer) form the 18th induction class into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame.
This year’s class will be honored on a to-be-determined date during the 2020-21 athletics year.
The 2000 football team – UTEP’s only WAC champion in football – will be inducted on its 20th anniversary. Head Coach Gary Nord, in his first season at the helm of the program, led the Miners to an 8-4 mark, and a 7-1 league record, en route to a berth in the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl.
UTEP’s offense was powered by quarterback Rocky Perez, who threw for 2,661 yards and 26 touchdowns with only six interceptions. The Miners had an offensive line anchored by seniors Carey Clayton and Jeff Seeton, and a dynamite 1-2 receiving punch in Lee Mays (70 catches-1,098 yards-15 touchdowns) and unanimous All-American tight end Brian Natkin (64 receptions-787 yards).
Fullback Chris Porter (142 carries-681 yards) headed up a balanced ground game. On defense, UTEP received dominant performances from linebacker Trey Merkens (112 tackles, 13 tackles for losses), end Menson Holloway (31 quarterback hurries, 15 tackles for losses, 10.5 sacks) and free safety D.J. Walker (10 pass breakups, five interceptions).
Jackson was the inspirational leader of the great Miner hoops squads of the 1980’s. He aided UTEP to 101 wins, four conference titles and four NCAA Tournament bids from 1983-87. The team’s leading scorer as a senior (12.9 ppg), Jackson collected 313 assists and 165 steals in his career. He was first team All-WAC as a senior.
Jackson’s untimely passing at the age of 23, shortly following his senior season, prompted coach Don Haskins to declare that no one would ever again wear his jersey #22. This tradition held until the 2016-17 season, when Paul Thomas took his number for one season to mark the 30th anniversary of his tragic death.
Magoc becomes the first member of the UTEP tennis team to be inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame. She played for the Miners from 1997-2000, and became the only UTEP player to advance to the NCAA Championships in 1998. She is also the only player in program history to notch 30 wins in a season – a feat she achieved in both 1997 (31) and 1998 (33).
Magoc owns the UTEP record with 110 singles victories. A four-time first team All-WAC honoree, she was also a four-time Academic All-Conference choice. Magoc defeated 22 ranked opponents during her time at UTEP, including the nation’s no. 8-rated player.
Mays was one of the heroes of the aforementioned 2000 WAC championship football team, as he led the nation with 15 touchdown catches that year. He closed out his career (1998-2001) with 200 receptions, tops in school history, for 2,908 yards, second in school annals.
“TD Lee” made the end zone his home as he tallied 28 touchdown catches in 45 career contests. He posted 10 games with 100+ yards in the Orange and Blue – including six during the record-setting 2000 campaign. He registered at least one touchdown catch in 10 consecutive games in 2000. Mays later played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL.
A prolific scorer, Russ terrorized opponents during her two years (1990-92) at UTEP. The only member of the school’s 1,000-point club (1,068 points) not to play a minimum of three seasons, she put up a school-best 20.2 points per outing, including 22.2 her junior season when she was first team All-WAC.
Russ is responsible for the top two single-game scoring outputs in school history. She tallied 40 points versus UTSA on Feb. 19, 1991, and 37 points against Baylor on Dec. 17, 1991. Russ is a member of UTEP’s Centennial Women’s Basketball Team.
An El Paso native, Tullius starred for the Miner soccer team from 2004-07. She finished as the program record-holder for goals (47) and points (112). Tullius is also tied for first in school history for game-winning goals (12) and multi-goal games (11).
She was appointed the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2007. Tullius led UTEP to a sparkling record of 61-22-4, including a program-best 20-4-1 mark in 2005. The 2005 squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament, winning a first round game at Texas as Tullius produced two goals in the final 10 minutes of the contest to force overtime in what eventually became a 3-2 victory.