Courtesy UTEP Athletics
UTEP football center Derron Gatewood is entering his sixth year as a Miner and as a key piece of the offensive line. Gatewood has not only had a successful career as a Miner but plans to have one after he leaves El Paso.
The redshirt senior missed last season due to an ACL and MCL leg injury, but those unfortunate events led him to pursue a master’s degree that he believes will be highly beneficial.
“Since I was here another year due to injury, I had the option to either earn another bachelor’s degree or earn my master’s, and I decided to take it to another level and earn my master’s because I believe it will help me in the long run,” Gatewood said.
The Odessa, Texas native earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in May 2018 and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in leadership studies.
“With my master’s degree, I really want to coach specifically at the high school level and give back to all the high school kids and help them as much as I can,” Gatewood said.
Gatewood’s success on the field has translated into the classroom at UTEP, being named to the Conference-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019).
The 6-foot 2, 300-pound senior was also named on the Rimington Trophy Watch List, which is awarded to the nation’s top center.
“I was taken off the watch list in 2018 due to my injury and that hurt a little bit but it’s great that I was put back on the list this year, and it shows my hard work over the summer is being recognized,” Gatewood said.
Before the start of the 2019 season Gatewood was also named to the preseason All-Conference USA first team.
Going through that injury was a troublesome time for the center who started all 12 games his sophomore year and missed just one game in his junior season.
“It was a tough tear in my ACL and MCL and it was hard basically getting my strength back to where it was but once I started to get back on the field it felt amazing to be back out there with my teammates, and now that I’m playing again it feels like I can finally see the light after the tough injury I went through,” Gatewood said.
Along with his degree in leaderships studies, Gatewood is pursuing his dream to play in the NFL, a league that features players Gatewood is very familiar with from UTEP.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play alongside Aaron Jones and Will Hernandez and I’ve been in contact with them, learning tips on what I need to work on to be successful in the league,” Gatewood said.
Gatewood helped pave the way for former Miner and Green Bay Packer running back Aaron Jones to become UTEP’s all-time leading rusher and played on the same offensive line as Will Hernandez who was a second-round draft pick for the New York Giants in the 2018 draft.
After the 2019 season has finished for the Miners, Gatewood plans to strengthen his skillset and achieve that dream thousands of collegiate football players yearn for, playing in the NFL.
“My number one goal is to get drafted and after the season I’m off to train and get ready for the NFL and just improve and work hard and at the end of the day just shoot for the stars,” Gatewood said.
Miner fans can catch the standout center this weekend as UTEP takes on Nevada at 6 p.m. Sept 21, in the Sun Bowl.