A Way-Too-Early Look at the 2019 UTEP NFL Pro Day
On Saturday, 16 Miners played their final game for the program in their 39-7 loss to Southern Miss, which means the now-former players will turn their focus toward hopes of playing in the NFL.
Although head coach Dana Dimel has not set a definite date for UTEP's pro day, where NFL scouts can come to the Sun Bowl and see prospects running drills, Dimel envisions success for some of his former players that will go off to the NFL.
"I don’t ever want to write anyone off. I think all our seniors have a good chance to play," Dimel said. "There’s three or four prospects that have been heavily talked about and looked at that a lot of pro teams like. You never know in the NFL though."
Those "three or four prospects" probably include linebacker A.J. Hotchkins, fullback Winston Dimel, cornerback Nik Needham and defensive back Kahani Smith. Others that are likely to throw their names out to pro scouts include defensive back Kalon Beverly, offensive lineman Jerrod Brooks, wideout Warren Redix, tight end David Lucero, linebacker Jamar Smith and defensive end Mike Sota, defensive tackle C.J. Reese, among others.
Following the Southern Miss game, Dimel also said that quarterback Ryan Metz might make an attempt to try out for pro scouts. Metz was not able to finish the season at quarterback after sustaining his fifth concussion of his college years.
Hotchkins put together one of the best breakthrough years he could have in his final season of eligibility. The linebacker finished atop C-USA in total tackles (126), tied with Florida International's Sage Lewis. He also finished tied 10th overall in FBS for total tackles.
Needham and Beverly combined for 55 pass deflections through their respective careers. Needham set the UTEP football program record with 33 career pass breakups, while Beverly led the team with two interceptions this season. Smith finished with a team-high 10 pass deflections on the season.
Although Dimel's football season with the Miners was also cut short due to a shoulder injury, Dimel will enter the 2019 NFL Draft as the No. 5 overall fullback in the nation, according to Walter Payton's draft projections. Dimel will have a chance to increase his draft stock with a hopeful Senior Bowl invitation and a chance at a possible combine invite. He was named 2017 All-Big 12 second team, and 2015 and 2016 All-Big 12 first team with 22 career tackles.
For now, players like Beverly, Hotchkins and Jamar Smith all said following the Southern Miss game that they will start training rigorously for a chance at the NFL, with the other graduating players likely to follow in the same footsteps.