Rice vs UTEP, Nov 30, 2019, Sun Bowl.
UTEP has produced two second team members on Conference USA’s 2019 All-Conference football team, while the Miners also had two student-athletes earn All-Freshman Team honors, it was announced by the league office on Tuesday.
The Miners were represented by offensive lineman Derron Gatewood and defensive end Denzel Chukwukelu on the league’s second team All-Conference squad, while defensive end Praise Amaewhule and longsnapper Tanner Boston both earned All-Freshman Team accolades following their rookie campaigns.
Additionally, UTEP had five players named All-Conference USA Honorable Mention, including OL Bobby DeHaro, DB Michael Lewis, kicker Gavin Baechle, KR Duron Lowe and PR Justin Garrett.
Leading the way for the Miners was senior offensive lineman Derron Gatewood, who started every game for the Miners at center this season after missing the entire 2018 campaign due to injury. Gatewood anchored an offensive line that paved the way for a rushing offense averaging 138.2 yards per game and rushed for 18 touchdowns in 2019.
Chukwukelu also picked up second team honors after playing in every game for the Miners and making 10 starts at defensive end over the course of the season. The senior ended the season tied for the team lead with 5.5 tackles for loss (18 yards) and 3.0 sacks, while he totaled 23 tackles (14 solo) and two pass break-ups on the year.
UTEP’s Praise Amaewhule earned a spot on the All-Freshman team after playing in all 12 games on the defensive line for the Miners, including making eight starts. As a redshirt freshman, Amaewhule registered 28 total tackles (16 solo) and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (5.5-24 yards) and sacks (3.0-20 yards). The Katy, Texas, native also tied for the team lead with three QB hurries and ranked third defensively with three pass break-ups.
Joining Amaewhule on C-USA’s All-Freshman team was longsnapper Tanner Boston, who saw action in every game for the Miners in 2019. Boston did not have a snap go awry this season while handling more than 100 snaps on special teams for UTEP. The Miners did give up a blocked field goal this season with Boston snapping the ball, while his efforts helped the Miners rank third in C-USA in opponents return average (4.1).
For the second year in a row, DeHaro earned All-Conference USA honorable mention accolades after starting every game for the Miners this season at left guard. DeHaro was the only returning starter in 2019 for the Miners on the offensive line from the previous season.
Defensively, senior safety Michael Lewis was also named Honorable Mention after leading the Miners with 96 total tackles (52 solo) on the season, which was 23 more tackles than the second-leading tackler on the team. Lewis started every game for UTEP in 2019 and registered at least three tackles in all 12 games. The senior also posted 10-plus tackles five times on the season, including a career-high 14 tackles against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 26.
On special teams, UTEP had three members earn Honorable Mention accolades, including kicker Gavin Baechle and return specialists Duron Lowe and Justin Garrett.
Baechle was 13-for-16 on field goals in 2019, including five field goals of 40-plus yards, while he was one of only four C-USA kickers perfect this season on point-after attempts (22-22). The sophomore ranked second on the team behind the team’s touchdown leader in Treyvon Hughes in scoring with 61 points. Baechle booted a career-long 46-yard field goal early in the season at Southern Miss, while he also handled kickoff duties for the Miners with 39 kickoffs for 2,417 yards (57.5 avg.) and 22 touchbacks.
In the return game, the Miners were led by Lowe and Garrett, who both garnered Honorable Mention recognition. Lowe returned 11 kickoffs for 281 yards with an average of 25.5 per return and a 100-yard kick returned for a touchdown at North Texas. In that game, Lowe had five kick returns for 204 yards, which is the second-most kick return yards in a game in UTEP history.
Garrett handled the majority of punt returns for the Miners this season and picked up Honorable Mention honors after returning 15 punts for 83 yards and an average of 5.5 yards per return on the season. Garrett posted returns of 10 or more yards three different times for the Miners in 2019.
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