Story updated 12/20/23 to include full signees 

Early signing day swept the college football world Wednesday, while UTEP's newest head coach Scotty Walden and the program announced their 23 early signees to the new-look Miner football roster.

As he promised during his introductory press conference, Walden emphasized recruiting high school prospects for his introductory early signing day class. Mixed in with the signees are nine of his former players from Austin Peay. The staff was able to garner other commits from FCS and JUCO transfers. There was only one FBS transfer that signed to UTEP in North Texas punter Adam Jacklin.

Coach Walden turned around the signing class in less than three weeks of being hired at UTEP. Sandwiched in between recruiting, Walden assembled his full coaching staff by completely clearing house from the previous regime. Now, Walden gets to turn his focus to fine-tuning his roster, acclimating himself to UTEP and preparing for spring ball. National signing day is set for Wednesday, Feb. 7.

From the high school ranks, Franklin quarterback Shay Smith stands out among the group because of his El Paso ties and UTEP ties. His dad is Paul Smith, a legendary UTEP running back in the 90s that spent time in the NFL. Throughout his four-year varsity career at Franklin HS, Shay racked up 4,702 passing yards and 2,352 rushing yards with 77 total touchdowns. He was listed as a 3-star recruit by 247 Sports and previously held offers from Houston, SMU and North Texas.

Then, the staff went heavy on recruiting their former Austin Peay players. Wide receiver Trey Goody is one of the names that jumps off the page. He was an all-conference transfer that racked up 721 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2023. Eastern Kentucky wide receiver Jaden Smith, who committed earlier this week, joins the Miners after a 781 receiving yard season in 2023.

One of the splash signees is 3-star tight end/wideout prospect Martavious Collins, a high school senior that has offers from the likes of Auburn.

Division I FBS transfers 

  • P Adam Jacklin, North Texas

High School Signees

  • QB Shay Smith, Franklin HS (El Paso, TX)
  • RB Ashten Emory, Rockwall HS (Rockwall, TX)
  • S Trace Meadows, A&M Consolidated HS (College Station)
  • WR/DB Justin Content, Mill Creek HS (Dacula, GA)
  • QB JP Pickles, NFC Football (Tallahassee, Fla)
  • TE/WR Josh Schuchts, NFC Football (Tallahassee, Fla)
  • CB Kam Herring, Collierville HS (Collierville, TN)
  • OT Jake Riggs, Oakland HS (Murfreesboro, TN)

FCS/Junior college transfers

  • QB Skyler Locklear, Austin Peay
  • RB Marquez Taylor, Austin Peay
  • WR Trey Goodman, Austin Peay
  • WR Kenny Odom, Austin Peay
  • WR Ashton Nickelberry, Austin Peay
  • WR/ATH Kam Thomas, Austin Peay
  • S Kory Chapman, Austin Peay
  • OL Brennan Smith, Austin Peay
  • OT/OG Isaiah Wright, Austin Peay
  • S Michael Ray, Tyler Junior College
  • OT Isaac Hawkins, Snow College
  • WR Jaden Smith, Eastern Kentucky
  • LB Tray Dunson, Gardner-Webb

Miners in the portal 

  • OL Steven Hubbard
  • OL Otis Pitts
  • WR Jonathan Patrick Jr.
  • TE Marcus Vinson
  • RB Torrance Burgess Jr.*
  • WR Jeremiah Ballard
  • WR Tyrin Smith*
  • RB Deion Hankins*
  • S McKel Broussard
  • S Tyler Williams
  • LB Jerome Wilson Jr.
  • WR Jostein Clarke
  • CB Ilijah Johnson
  • CB Latrez Shelton

Ex-Miners transferring elsewhere

  • P Joshua Sloan (Memphis)*
  • WR Kelly Akharaiyi (Miss. State)*
  • CB Torey Richardson (Troy)
  • LB James Neal (Texas State)*
  • OT Justin Mayers (Colorado)*
  • S Kobe Hylton (Oklahoma State)*

Of note, the asterisks (*) represents players that entered the portal that were All CUSA recipients. The majority of All CUSA honorees will parlay their success at UTEP and hope to have success elsewhere. Akharaiyi's move to Mississippi State in the SEC and Mayers' move to Colorado in the Big 12 represent some of the more marquee moves in the portal.

UTEP beats Austin Peay, 71-63

Gallery Credit: UTEP Zay

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