Head coach Sean Kugler will present the 2016 signing class on Wednesday, Feb. 3 in the Larry K. Durham Center.

Football seeks prospects for national signing day

February 2, 2016

Offseason recruiting comes to a close with national signing day drawing near. Football head coach Sean Kugler and his staff will present the 2016 signees on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Larry K. Durham Center.

This recruitment process will be very important to the team due to the four coaching changes that Kugler made earlier this year.

With news of numerous high school prospects verbally committing to UTEP, it is evident that Kugler has carefully selected this recruitment class and should be praised for the talent he has reached.

More stars, more credibility

First to note from the list of commits are the two three-star recruits that the Miners are obtaining. Two of these recruits made huge impacts at the tailback position during their respective high school seasons.

Antonio Dupree (RB/MLB) – Gilman High School (Baltimore, MD)

The 5-foot-10, 220-pound tailback finds most of his luck from the shotgun formation. At Gilman, Dupree was a workhorse in a spread offense system. He incorporates his apparent speed with power to steam through defenses. Dupree also received offers from Connecticut, Iowa, Ohio State, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

Quardraiz Wadley (RB) – Kennedale High School (Kennedale, TX)

After being named the Associated Press Class 4A Player of the Year, there is no question in regards to the talent that Quardraiz Wadley brings to the forefront. Through his senior season, Wadley carried the ball 224 times for 2,511 yards. He has no problem in reaching the end zone, as he scored 46 times during the 2015 season. He verbally committed to UTEP on Jan. 24.

Everything’s bigger in Texas

Kugler and his staff picked up key prospects in the state of Texas. These prospects will add to the many gaps that require filling on the team. From 6A through 5A-associated players, the Miners have landed some gems throughout the Lone Star state.

Walter Dawn (RB) – Poteet High School (Mesquite, TX)

Walter Dawn will bring a key attribute of his to UTEP–speed. He posted a stunning 4.4 40-yard dash time, which is almost improbable for his age. Dawn can pick up yards on the ground or through the air. He finished his three-year varsity career at Poteet with 2,230 rushing yards and 1,822 receiving yards, with 41 total touchdowns. Along with UTEP, Dawn received offers from Nevada, New Mexico, Texas Southern and West Texas A&M.

Amorama Noel (TE) – Alief Elsik High School (Houston, TX)

The two-time All-District tight end will import good hands and efficient blocking to the Miners. Noel works best in an under-center, balanced offense, which will work with that of UTEP’s. The 6-foot-3 tight end got looks from big-name schools such as Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Minnesota, Colorado and Indiana.

Kolbi McGary (OLB) – Cedar Hill High School (Cedar Hill, TX)

Standing at 6-foot-1, McGary comes from a high school team that was ranked in the top 25 of the state. As we have seen, the linebacker position has been filled by younger players on the Miners, and McGary might see the field quicker than most. He finished his single season on Cedar Hill with 59 total tackles, averaging almost six tackles per game.

There’s no place like home

A significant move that the coaches have made during this offseason was securing the top local recruits. Players such as Aaron Jones, Alvin Jones, Cole Freytag, Warren Redix, Ryan Metz and Derek Elmendorff are all prime examples of local talent that have excelled on the team. Kugler has been a firm believer on keeping talent at home, and did a noteworthy job at obtaining these prospects.

Christian Johnson (DE) – Parkland High School (El Paso, TX)

One of the first to verbally commit to the Miners in the fall was the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end Christian Johnson. He is a four-year varsity starter and is a force to be reckoned with. Throughout his high school career, Johnson posted 180 total tackles and 33.5 sacks. Due to his level of intensity, we might see Johnson take the field as soon as the fall.

Brannon Bullitt (WR) – Chapin High School (El Paso, TX)

Assisting his high school team to an undefeated (8-0) district record, Brannon Bullitt towers at 6-foot-2 over defenders. Since his sophomore year, Bullitt averaged 90 yards or better in receiving per game. During his senior year, Bullitt caught the ball 66 times and scored 22 times.

Robert Deharo (DT) – Montwood High School (El Paso, TX)

Seeking to join Johnson on the defensive front is Robert Deharo. Also like Johnson, Deharo is a bulky addition – he stands at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. Deharo is known for swarming to the quarterback, and he is no stranger to offensive linemen because he was once one himself.

Mark Torrez (QB) – Eastwood High School (El Paso, TX)

Mark Torrez brings to the table a trait like those of Miner quarterbacks Kavika Johnson and Ryan Metz: he is a dual threat. In high school, Torrez was notorious for stunting defenses with his ability to pass, while still being able to efficiently tuck the ball in and run. Torrez ranked second in all of Texas 6A football for passing yards (3,837), second in total yards (4,883) and ranked in the top 50 for rushing yards. Torrez might see playing time in other positions as well due to his athleticism.

Richie Rodriguez (WR/S/PR) – Eastwood High School (El Paso, TX)

Committing alongside his high school teammate Mark Torrez, Richie Rodriguez carries a big dose of athleticism to the collegiate level. On the offensive side, Rodriguez ranked first in Texas 6A for receiving yards (1,709), sixth for scoring (140 points) and seventh for touchdowns (23). Through his three years on varsity, he totaled with 3,750 receiving yards and 1,105 rushing yards. On the defensive side, he totaled 24 tackles and 16 pass deflections during his senior season. In addition, Rodriguez might be called to arms at the returner position for the Miners.

Eric Foster (WR) – Americas High School (El Paso, TX)

Eric Foster made a transition from receiver to quarterback in between his junior and senior season. After filling the demanding role, Foster will return to the wideout position when he plays at the collegiate level. For an athlete who can throw for 1,379 yards, rush for 1,083 yards and record 677 yards during his varsity career, Foster is almost limitless on the offensive playbook.

West region fever

The remainder of the top picks that the Miners are obtaining this offseason come from the West. From California to Washington, Kugler and his recruitment staff made sure to snatch some key defenders and add a stellar center.

Justin Rogers (CB) – Los Angeles Senior High School (Los Angeles, CA)

Serving as a multi-talented player, Justin Rogers verbally committed to join the Miners on Jan. 18. Rogers will contribute a good defensive eye to the Miners with his two years of varsity experience. He totaled with 69 total tackles and poses a risk to quarterbacks. He recorded three interceptions and broke up 10 passes during the 2015 season.

Jared Goldwire (DE) – Kentwood High School (Kent, WA)

Joining the ranks of the Miners’ defensive front is the massive, 6-foot-7, 280-pound tackle Jared Goldwire. For such a large player, Goldwire can move quickly. He specializes in getting after the quarterback on the outside. Goldwire received looks from Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, Purdue, Washington and Washington State.

Tanner Stallings – Hutchinson Community College (Sterling, KS)

Weighing in at a whopping 300 pounds, Tanner Stallings will make UTEP his new home for his remaining years of college eligibility. The standout center signed his letter of intent to join the Miners on Dec. 12. Stallings went from high school to play football at the junior college level at Hutchinson Community College.

Tiano Tialavea – O’Dea High School (Seattle, WA)

Despite missing his first six games of his senior season due to a broken foot, Tiano Tialavea was a sought-after recruit by many as a top-tier defensive player. Tialavea was being scouted by Boise State, Oregon, Utah, Washington, UNLV and Kentucky. During his junior season, he recorded an impressive 25 total sacks. In only four games, Tialavea played both offensive and defensive tackle for O’Dea High School.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected].

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