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UTEP football is an extended family for this offensive lineman

Alberto Silva Fernandez
Prior to attending UTEP Mervin attended Hutchinson Community College but once Coach Dimel caught eye of him he knew he wanted to have him on his roster

UTEP football’s offensive lineman Robert Mervin, known to his teammates and coaches as “Merv,” has been playing football since he was a child. While playing for UTEP, he has created close friendships with his teammates and has come to see them as an extended family. 

Mervin is a senior with a degree in multidisciplinary studies and is currently on his way to earning a second degree in criminal justice. Mervin explained that his inspiration for pursuing a career in criminal justice is the fact that his mom works as a police officer and his dad works in IT law enforcement.  

Mervin has been playing football since he was 4 years old, getting his start in a league back in his hometown of Dumfries, Virginia called Dell City Sports Club. Mervin mentions his mom was a big part of the reason he wanted to play football.  

Mervin explains the biggest achievement he has is one he shares with his mom where he played his first game as a Miner at Boise State. Mervin’s mom sent him a picture of him playing in the game, which made him excited because he has always wanted to play college football.  

“My mom is the biggest football fan in the world. She lives, eats, breathes, and sleeps football, so I had no choice but to play. It wasn’t really an option,” Mervin said. “It was big for her to see her son play college football because, (although) me and my brothers played, I was the only one to really make it this far. So, it was just huge for her to see it and I got to come out and start the next week against New Mexico. To me, it’s big, but it makes me smile making her smile. That’s all it really is.” 

Prior to playing for the Miners, Mervin played for Hutchinson Community College. He explains that he decided to bring his talents to UTEP because his old offensive lineman coach, unanimous UTEP All-American Brian Natkin, told him how much he loved the city of El Paso. Natkin informed Mervin that he was going to love the city and sure enough, he was right. 

“This has easily been the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Mervin said. “El Paso is such a homey city.” 

While attending Hutchinson Community College, Mervin caught the attention of UTEP football Head Coach Dana Dimel. 

“Merv was a guy that is from Hutch JUCO, which is my alma mater as well, and I got to go down and watch him practice in person,” Dimel said. “I saw that he was going to be a really talented player for us. He can play all the positions, center, guard, and tackle, and that gives us a lot of versatility and he’s a really good athlete for his size.” 

Since coming to El Paso, Mervin has made many friendships with his teammates, in which he explains that he knows wherever he travels, he will have someone there to be with.  

Mervin mentions that he gets along with everyone on the team, but he has developed a close bond with fellow offensive lineman sophomore Justin Mayers. Mervin explains that Mayers was the first person he met when he got to El Paso and since then, Mayers has shown him the ropes since he was here at UTEP prior to Mervin. 

“I have a twin brother back home and we’ve always been close, so you know playing football is nothing more than an extended family,” Mervin said. “I’d say Justin is the one I’m close to. He’s definitely my best friend on the team.” 

During the 2021 season, Mervin had a significant impact on the run game; paving the way for senior running back Ronald Awatt and sophomore running back Deion Hankins to average 100 combined yards per game. Mervin said that nothing makes him happier than seeing his family succeed and being a member of UTEP football means the world to him.  

“Coming out seeing them hit rushing yard achievements, it’s huge,” Mervin said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team. Across the board – the good, the bad, the ups and the downs – the work we do in the off season and what not, it means everything to me. I love this place.” 

Outside of football, Mervin has one hobby that he absolutely loves, which is; cooking. Mervin explains that when he was in middle school, he wanted to go to culinary school. But, when he watched an episode of “Chopped and noticed the difficult cooking that they do, he decided to stick with football. However, Mervin did mention that his favorite dish to make is macaroni and cheese.  

“The best part about cooking is you can add your own flavor to it,” Mervin said. “Cooking to me is like art, like music, painting, plays and operas and what not. You just give a little piece of yourself into your own creation.” 

Mervin is excited for the rest of the season; he believes that despite their loss against North Texas the team is going to come back stronger than ever.  

“We have big goals ahead,” Mervin said. “Believe that we’re coming for conference championships. We’re going to get a better bowl game than last year. This is the UTEP team this season – wait for it. You know we had a bad game; it happens. I wish it hadn’t, but it did. I tell people all the time, we’re better than any team the city’s ever seen. We’re going to show it this year.” 

 Katrina Villarreal is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Katrina Villarreal
Katrina Villarreal, Multimedia Editor
Katrina Villarreal is senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in theatre at UTEP. She is going into her second year at The Prospector and is currently the Multimedia Editor. Once she graduates, she plans on becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL or ESPN.  
Alberto Silva Fernandez
Alberto Silva Fernandez, Contributor/Photographer
Alberto Silva Fernandez is a sophomore, majoring in Multimedia Journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is a photographer for The Prospector and freelances covering the borderland. When he isn’t covering events Albert likes to study politics, play video games, and listen to music.
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UTEP football is an extended family for this offensive lineman