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Puente ready for next step in football career with UTEP

Adrian Broaddus
Graduate assistant Anthony Puente is in his first year as a graduate assistant for UTEP. Puente was a linebacker for the Miners from 2011 to 2014.

He knows this turf too well.

A deep sense of nostalgia enters his mind as the turf brushes the bottom of his shoe.

However, this 2015 fall season, Anthony Puente will not put on his shoulder pads, strap on his helmet or lace up his cleats for another season at linebacker.

Instead, the ex-Miner will be on the sidelines as a graduate assistant for the defense.

Puente, a San Antonio native, joined the Miners as a walk-on linebacker from 2011-2014. He redshirted his freshman year before securing a starting position his junior year in 2013. During that year, Puente led all linebackers in tackles and was third on the team for total tackles with 60.

Even though he suffered an injury during his senior year, Puente found similar results during the 2014 season. He started 10 games and ranked fourth with 47 tackles. In the season opener, Puente set a career high with 11 tackles against New Mexico.

It’s safe to say Puente knows the intricacies of this UTEP defense.

“I’ve been in (coach Scott) Stoker’s system for two years for now, so I know what he wants as a linebacker and as a defense player, so that’s what I assist,” Puente said. “Being an assistant, I know the playbook inside and out. I know what he wants on the field. I’m able to go around and help these guys out, and let them know that the hard work is going to pay off. I’m having a great time learning every day, coach Stoker is one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. I’m learning a lot of football being around him.”

By the end of his playing career, Puente accomplished his goal. Playing football and getting an education.

“One of the things I told my parents when I first came out here was I came out here to get my education paid for one day and I came here to play division one football one day–that being my dream,” Puente said. “Overall, it was a great experience–I learned a lot about myself, a lot about working and about starting from the bottom and working my way up.”

From his early stages in the sport, Puente developed a strong passion for football, which would lead to his desire to continue this as a profession someday.

“My first time I put on pads was sixth grade,” Puente said. “I didn’t get to play as young as most people, but I played at a fairly young age. Basketball was my sport for a while, and then I got into football,–I was a little more built for it. Started to progress in it, really loved the sport and saw a career or future in it after high school.”

As one of six graduate assistants, Puente is learning the day-by-day work coaches do, and is able to experience what they do at this high of a standard.

“We (graduate assistants) usually come in very early, probably the first ones here, getting things ready for practice and scout team,” Puente said. “After practice we go in as a staff and break down the film, watch mistakes and errors we did, and then throughout the day we are preparing for the game Saturday or start working on what’s next. So we do a lot of scouting reports, a lot of scouting ourselves and finding any tip on the opponent we can. Long mornings and late nights, but it’s the thing you have to do in this business. But, I love my staff and everyone I work with, so I’m enjoying it.”

Being on the defensive side of the ball, Puente is able to give advice to the players and help them in any way possible. However, there is a linebacker who stands out for Puente. According to Puente, senior Jimmy Musgrave reminds the graduate assistant a lot of himself as a player.

“I would say the guy who is very similar to me is Jimmy Musgrave,” Puente said. “We are both physical guys, both guys who like to hit, and that’s what you have to have mentality wise to be a middle linebacker. Jimmy is one of the hardest working guys we have on defense, very physical, loves the game – and you can tell from practice and what he does off the field. He’s always studying or working out, which is something I did. I had to do the extra mile because I was either under size or wasn’t quick enough, so I had to make up for it in the weight room or film room.”

In all, nothing sparks his interest quite like the game of football, and Puente will plan to continue to climb up the ladder and grow as a coach.

“Football itself is an adrenaline rush that you’ve never ever experienced before,” Puente said. “I’m blessed to be around these guys – they’re all great kids. The intensity of it, the passion of it – you have to have passion to play this game. Football is not something you can wake up and be half about it. It’s something you have to have a lot of passion for. When game day comes – there’s no other atmosphere like college game day. It’s one of those feelings where you can’t duplicate anything else. That’s what I live for. I hope to go further in this profession, and hopefully one day be a head coach and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Puente ready for next step in football career with UTEP