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Nik Needham: The embodiment of a UTEP Miner

Gaby Velasquez

Senior cornerback Nik Needham stepped foot on campus in 2014 coming from Buena Park, California in hopes of making an impact on a historically unsuccessful program.

“Freshmen year was definitely a culture shock. Coming from California it’s very fast-paced, and it’s been a long road here at UTEP but I definitely enjoyed it,” Needham said.

Over a five-year span in which Needham was a Miner, the team had a cumulative record of 22-44. These past two seasons the Miners compiled only one win.

Even with all these lows, Needham’s mind was constantly geared towards being an unselfish team player and making the most out of his senior season.

“I just embraced my senior season and planned on going all out for my teammates, and as a team, I saw we never gave up throughout the year and we fought till the very end,” Needham said.

The 2017 All-Conference USA Honorable Mention selection was a constant workhorse and reliable defensive playmaker.

Needham is the programs all-time leader in pass breakups (33). This season Needham recorded nine pass breakups for the second season in a row.

“It was a big accomplishment to go down in UTEP history as the career pass breakup leader, but it’s due to my teammates as well and I wouldn’t be anything without them,” Needham said.

Highlights came in bunches for Needham over his five-year career at UTEP.

In 2017, Needham recorded a UTEP game-high record of five pass breakups in a loss against Western Kentucky, and during his freshman season in an overtime victory over rival New Mexico State, he recorded seven tackles, one sack, and one pass breakup. The standout corner also recorded a career-high nine tackles in the Miners five-overtime win over UTSA in 2016.

“Beating New Mexico State in overtime at their house was probably one of the biggest moments I remember and when we went five overtimes against UTSA,” Needham said.

“The Western Kentucky one would have been big to me if we won. The ones where we win those are the ones I count on.”

Now that the record-breaking cornerback’s career at UTEP is over the next step in his football journey is heading to the NFL.

Needham is scheduled to participate in NFL pro day, where scouts will come to the Sun Bowl and watch the corner run drills and display why he deserves to be drafted.

“Pro day is definitely in my plans and in two weeks I’m going to be headed home and get right to work,” Needham said.

Various draft projection websites have Needham going in the third to fifth round while ranking in the top 25 of the cornerback class. With this continued respect for his game, Needham acknowledges there is always important layers and areas to enhance going into the league.

“You can never be fast enough and I know that’s a big key that they look for in the NFL and still learn more about the game of football as well.”

Looking back on his storied career at UTEP, Needham is appreciative of not only the time spent on the field but off the field as well.

“I’ve appreciated my time here in El Paso and I’ve made a lot of good friends and brothers. My time here is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

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About the Contributors
Isaiah Ramirez
Isaiah Ramirez is a senior multimedia journalism major at the University of Texas at El Paso. Isaiah has worked for the university’s paper The Prospector since Spring 2018 and has held the position as a sports editor and is currently a reporter at the publication. During the fall semesters he also works as an on-air reporter for Football Friday Nights a weekly radio show showcasing local football games broadcasted by 600 ESPN El Paso. He covers local news as well as local and UTEP sporting events such as football, men’s and women’s basketball, and has covered the annual Hyundai Sun Bowl game and two-time NBA champion Danny Green’s basketball camp here in the Sun City.
Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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Nik Needham: The embodiment of a UTEP Miner