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Revisiting UTEP’s professional football players

From+left+to+right%3A+Aaron+Jones%2C+Jordan+Palmer+and+Will+Hernandez.+Photos+courtesy+of+Wikipedia+commons.
From left to right: Aaron Jones, Jordan Palmer and Will Hernandez. Photos courtesy of Wikipedia commons.

UTEP football has never lacked talent. Despite the struggle to win over the years, the amount of dedication and skill needed to compete at a Division I level is extraordinary. Throughout the years, players have found their way onto National Football League rosters and practice squads. Notable players such as safety Quinten Demps, quarterback Sammy Garza and guard Oniel Cousins have all found themselves in the NFL. Some, however, become trailblazers and even pillars in the league. 

Will Hernandez 

Guard William “Will” Hernandez played a total of 49 games for the UTEP Miners where he became the 2nd team All-American guard and earned a position on the Conference USA’s first-team roster. Hernandez was then drafted by the New York Giants in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft at pick number 34. The 26-year-old Miner now finds himself with the Arizona Cardinals and is one of only a handful of Latinx football players in the league. The NFL reports, via The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, that only 0.5 percent of players in the NFL identify as “Latino.” To have a high-profile Latinx player represent such a substantial portion of the NFL’s fanbase allows for the adversity of other marginalized individuals to succeed not just in football, but all throughout the sports landscape. 

Jordan Palmer 

Quarterback Jordan William Palmer tends to live in the shadow of his older brother and former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, Carson Palmer. However, Jordan did bring success on his own to UTEP during his tenure with the Miners, scoring 88 touchdowns, throwing for over 11,000 yards and leading his squad to the 2005 GMAC Bowl. That success led him to be drafted by the now Washington Commanders in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft at pick number 205. Jordan played for various teams across the country, but only saw action in Tennesse and Cincinnati, where Jordan and Carson became the first brothers to share a roster at the quarterback position. Jordan’s NFL career was limited, but his career outside of the gridiron is what made him stand out. Jordan founded “QB Summit” as a quarterback consulting program aimed at tutoring quarterbacks in both college and professional football. Such quarterbacking talents include Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes, Buffalo Bills Josh Allen, Cincinnati Bengals Joe Burrow and at the collegiate level, Oregon’s Bo Nix. The 38-year-old coach now finds himself as the Director of Quarterback Development for the upcoming reincarnation of the XFL. 

Aaron Jones 

Arguably the most notable UTEP alumnus in recent years, Aaron LaRae Jones has taken the league by storm having racked up over 4,000 yards in his first five seasons, being voted in for the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl and having earned the 2019 co-leader in rushing touchdowns. Before his electric presence in Green Bay, Burges High School alumni’s 35 game collegiate career was filled with 4,760 multipurpose yards, 33 rushing touchdowns and 240 points. Jones was later drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 NFL Draft during the sixth round at pick number 182. The 27-year-old running back seized an opportunity to shine after both running backs Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams fell to injuries in Week 4 of the 2017 NFL Season versus the Chicago Bears. Since then, Jones has recorded two 1,000 plus yards seasons and 41 regular season touchdowns for the Packers. Jones is currently under contract with Green Bay up until 2025. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Revisiting UTEP’s professional football players