On Wednesday, UTEP head coach Dana Dimel revealed his 2020 signing class in the Larry K. Durham Center.
During the news conference, Dimel announced the addition of 8 on the defensive side of the field and 3 on the offensive side .
Our very own Ruben R. Ramirez was there and we bring you his coverage of the news conference with this gallery and video.
It was a busy Wednesday morning for the UTEP Football program as the coaching staff inked a total of 11 signees to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period on National Signing Day.
The UTEP staff welcomed in 11 future Miners in the first of two signing periods for the 2020 recruiting class. The first NLI made its way to El Paso around 6 a.m. MT with 10 more products signing on to become Miners before noon.
The 2020 signing class features 11 fresh faces as head coach Dana Dimel and his staff brought in a defensive-minded class with eight players added on defense and three offensive signees.
UTEP added seven players who hail from the junior college ranks, all of which are on the defensive side of the ball, and four high school products. All four signees out of high school hail from the state of Texas, while one JUCO product also hails from the Lone Star state. Other signees from Wednesday are products of Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee and Iowa.
“We put a lot of focus on the defensive side of the ball with this early signing period,” Dimel said on Wednesday afternoon. “We should end up with eight midyear junior college transfers and all eight of them will be on the defensive side of the football. We started off with our concerns of trying to create a better pass rush on the edge. The whole athleticism of our team has improved immensely with this signing class. We will continue to do that as we fill in the rest in February. These guys fit the culture that I am accustomed to having when we have had success, and that’s guys that do everything the way it is supposed to be done on and off the field.”
The first two National Letters of Intent were announced at 6:42 a.m. MT on Wednesday morning when a pair of teammates from Kilgore College signed on to become Miners in defensive linemen Kelton Moss (Jonesboro, La.) and Jadrian Taylor (Lufkin, Texas).
From there, the new faces quickly began to roll in with seven more NLI’s arriving before 8 a.m. MT, including OL Ian James (Aubrey HS/Aubrey, Texas), DT Keenan Stewart (Iowa Western CC/Cedar Rapids, Iowa), LB Tyrice Knight (Independence CC/Lakeland, Fla.), RB Willie Eldridge (Cy Ranch HS/Houston, Texas), DB Verenzo Holmes (NW Mississippi CC/Grovetown, Ga.), ATH Khalil Warfield (Antonian College Prep/San Antonio, Texas) and DL Deylon Williams (Independence CC/Smyrna, Tenn.).
The next future Miner signed on to play for UTEP at 9:34 a.m. MT when DB Dennis Barnes’ (Fort Scott CC/Jefferson City, Mo.) NLI arrived, while the action concluded not too long after when DT Dresden McIver (Veterans Memorial HS/San Antonio, Texas) sent in his NLI at 11:09 a.m. MT to wrap up a busy morning for the football program.
Since the 2019 season wrapped up on Nov. 30, the UTEP staff has been hard at work recruiting the next batch of Miners to don the orange and blue, a process that ended with much success for Dimel and the future of the program.
“In our first full recruiting weekend after the season, we got everybody we wanted that was in and committed to us on that day,” Dimel, who is entering his third season at the helm of the Miners, said of the recruiting process over the past few weeks. “It was the same thing in week two. We got 100 percent on the guys we targeted and had in for visits and offers. We got in 100 percent of the offers. That is really outstanding, so we are really proud of that. We feel like we have shored up a lot of our defensive concerns and should have a really good young offensive line. We also feel like we have really helped our special teams units moving forward, which is such an important part of winning football games.”
While the Miners focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball during this signing period, Dimel noted that the staff will also target some key offensive positions leading up to the February signing period.
“With the new legislation being put in with having a signing period here in December, it is very positive for us, but we are also liking the one coming up in February as well,” Dimel said. “We put the emphasis on defense with this signing class. We do have two other offensive linemen, a tight end, two wide receivers and a linebacker that are committed to the program, but those are guys who will be talked about in our February signing day gettogether as well as an additional 7-10 other plays who will be announced then. That is where our numbers lie.”
During his Wednesday press conference, Dimel also noted the importance of the junior college players who signed with UTEP in regards to having an immediate impact for the Miners as early as this upcoming spring.
“This is an opportunity to get some good players that can be here in the spring so we can start to mold them and they can really help us turn the corner,” Dimel said. “But also, it goes back to when we came in and where we were. When I got here, there were a lot of juniors and seniors, but not very many freshmen and sophomores on the roster. Sometimes that is where you have to go the junior college route because you have to fill those voids that were in the recruiting, so that is one of the main reasons we went with the junior college guys.”
For complete coverage of UTEP Football, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPFB (Twitter/Instagram) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.
Gallery and Video by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post
2020 UTEP FOOTBALL SIGNEES
Dennis Barnes – DB, 5-11, 170
Jefferson City, Mo. (Fort Scott CC)
- Played two seasons at Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas, where he saw action in 16 total games as a defensive back for the Greyhounds.
- In 2019, he saw action in seven games for the Greyhounds and registered 25 total tackles (22 solo), while averaging 3.6 tackles per game last season.
- He ranked second on the team with two interceptions on the year (returned for 5 yards) and led the team with 7 pass break-ups over the course of last season.
- During the 2017 season, he played in nine games for the Greyhounds, while registering 4.0 total tackles (3 solo) and 1 interception during his freshman campaign.
- Coached by Kale Pick during his time at Fort Scott.
- Graduated high school from Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 2017.
Willie Eldridge – RB, 5-11, 195
Houston, Texas (Cy Ranch HS)
- Expected to graduate from Cy Ranch High School in Cypress, Texas, in 2020.
- Rated as a 3-star recruit by both 247sports.com and Rivals.
- Chose UTEP over offers from Army, Texas Tech, BYU, New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Utah, Southern Miss and others.
- Lettered in football for the Mustangs, while amassing nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns over the course of his junior and senior seasons.
- Coached by Sean McAuliffe during his time at Cypress Ranch.
Verenzo Holmes – DB, 5-11, 190
Grovetown, Ga. (NW Mississippi CC)
- Played in 11 games for the NW Mississippi Rangers during the 2019 season.
- Registered 20 total tackles (14 solo), 1.0 TFL (8 yards) and 5 pass breakups.
- Spent the 2017-18 seasons at Ball State.
- In 2017, he played in 11 games at defensive back, while making two starts on the season, totaling 10 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sack and a forced fumble.
- Redshirted the 2018 season at Ball State.
- Played for coach Damien Postell at Grovetown High in Georgia.
- The 247Sports three-star athlete registered 70 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, and 16 pass break-ups as a senior.
- Also accounted for 678 all-purpose yards as a receiver and kick returner.
- Was part of the 2015 Aquinas team that reached the Georgia Class A Private state championship game.
- Holds the school record for longest kick return, 99 yards, accomplished on the opening kickoff of the championship game.
- First team all-state honoree.
- Received interest from Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and WKU, among others.
- Off the field, an A-B Honor Roll member.
Ian James – OL, 6-5, 275
Aubrey, Texas (Aubrey HS)
- Expected to graduate from Aubrey High School in 2020.
- Rated as a 2-star offensive tackle by 247sports.com.
- Helped guide the Chaparrals to playoff appearances all four years during his prep days.
- Earned District 3-4AAAA Division II second team all-district honors as a senior.
- Named academic all-state by the Texas High School Coaches Association in 2018 for his efforts in the classroom and on the gridiron.
- Coached by Keith Ivy.
Tyrice Knight – LB, 6-1, 235
Lakeland, Fla. (Independence CC)
- Spent the 2019 season at Independence Community College.
- Played in 10 games for the Pirates, while ranking second on the team with 58 total tackles (29 solo) and 5.8 tackles per game.
- Also recorded 4.0 TFL (9 yards), 4 pass break-ups and 5 interceptions for 163 INT return yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Had two interceptions for 119 yards and a touchdown to help lead Indy to a 49-20 win over Butler in 2019.
- Graduated from Lake Gibson HS in 2018 after earning all-state honors during his prep days with the Braves.
Dresden McIver – DT, 6-0, 278
San Antonio, Texas (Veterans Memorial HS)
- Expected to graduate from Veterans Memorial High School in 2020.
- Rated as a 3-star defensive tackle by 247sports.com.
- Lettered all four years for the Patriots.
- Helped guide Veterans to back-to-back appearances in the Region IV-5A Division I playoffs as both a junior and senior.
- Totaled 62 tackles (36 solo) and an average of 6.2 tackles per game.
- Chose UTEP over offers from Stephen F. Austin and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
- Coached by Richard Mendoza.
Kelton Moss – DT, 6-2, 295
Jonesboro, La. (Kilgore College)
- Spent the past two seasons at Kilgore College.
- Excelled at Kilgore as a 2019 Second Team All-America selection by the NJCAA.
- Also earned SWJCFC First Team All-Conference accolades this past season.
- Recorded 59 tackles (36 solo), 9 TFL (23 yards), five sacks and three forced fumbles in 2019.
- As a freshman in 2018, he played in 12 games for the Rangers, while recording 52 tackles (30 solo), 3 sacks (23 yards), 3 forced fumbles and an interception.
- Helped lead the Rangers to a combined 18-4 record in his two seasons at Kilgore.
- Graduated from Jonesboro-Hodge High School in Jonesboro, Louisiana, in 2018.
- Earned all-state honors for the Tigers during his prep days at Jonesboro-Hodge.
Keenan Stewart – DT, 6-2, 300
Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Iowa Western CC)
- Spent the past two seasons at Iowa Western Community College.
- Played in 12 games for the Reivers this past season.
- Registered 43 total tackles (19 solo) with 10.5 TFL (42 yards) in 2019.
- Also totaled 5 sacks for 28 yards to go along with 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
- Redshirted the 2018 season after seeing action in just one game and registering one tackle.
- Graduated from Jefferson High School in 2018.
- Named Class 4A District 5 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Jefferson.
Jadrian Taylor – DE, 6-1, 235
Lufkin, Texas (Kilgore College)
- Spent the past two seasons at Kilgore College, where he helped guide the Rangers to an 18-4 combined record over that span.
- Earned SWJCFC Honorable Mention accolades in 2019.
- Saw action in 10 games in 2019, while recording 35 tackles (24 solo), 6.5 sacks (60 yards), 2 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
- In 2018, he played in 11 games as a freshman at Kilgore, while recording 18 tackles (11 solo), 1.6 tackles per game, 1.5 sacks (15 yards) and a forced fumble.
- Graduated from Lufkin High School in 2017.
Khalil Warfield – ATH, 6-2, 205
San Antonio, Texas (Antonian College Prep)
- Expected to graduate from Antonian College Prep in 2020.
- Earned First Team All-District honors as an athlete for TAPPS Division I-District 3 as a senior.
- Finished his final season as a dual-threat quarterback for the Apaches with 2,671 yards and 31 touchdowns.
- Was named to the San Antonio All-Star Team following his senior season.
- Helped lead the Apaches to a 9-4 record and an appearance in the semifinals of the TAPPS Division I High School Football Playoffs as a senior.
- Multi-sport athlete who lettered in football, basketball and track and field during his prep days.
- Chose UTEP over offers from Southern Miss and Incarnate Word.
- Coached by Van Fuschak.
Deylon Williams – DL, 6-2, 245
Smyrna, Tenn. (Independence CC)
- Spent the 2019 season at Independence Community College where he played in 10 games for the Pirates.
- Ranked fourth on the team with 48 total tackles (29 solo) last season, while also averaging 4.8 tackles per game.
- Had two sacks for a loss of 11 yards in 2019.
- Ranked second on the team with 15 tackles for loss (41 yards).
- Forced two fumbles and had one fumble recovery as a redshirt sophomore for Indy.
- Spent the 2017-18 seasons at UT Martin, where he redshirted as a true freshman before playing in six games in 2018 and registering three total tackles.
- Prepped at Smyrna High School, playing for head coach Matt Williams.
- Guided the Bulldogs to a 6-5 record with a playoff berth in 2016.
- Posted 81 total tackles – including 55 solo stops.
- Averaged 8.1 tackles per game.
- Recorded a sack and a fumble recovery as a senior.
- Missed his entire junior season due to injury.
- Finished his career with 149 total tackles, one sack, an interception and a fumble recovery.
- Ranked as a two-star recruit by Rivals.
- Tabbed Region 4-6A All-Region Offensive Player of the Year and first team offense.
- Named to the Daily News Journal All-Area second team.
- Named to the All-Region 2-6A team.
- Played in the 2016 Toyota East vs. West All-Star Game.
- Played in the 15th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Football game.