UTEP’s linebacker core got that much better yesterday, as former Oregon Ducks linebacker AJ Hotchkins announced that he would be transferring to UTEP for his final year of eligibility.

Hotchkins, a graduate transfer, was sidelined for the majority 2017 season with a leg injury and granted a medical redshirt. Since he is a grad transfer, Hotchkins is eligible to play immediately for the Miners.

He’s a 5-foot-11, 232-pound inside linebacker that finished his Oregon career with 42 tackles. He was a three-star recruit from Tigard High School before playing two seasons at Riverside City College (Calif.). Upon his decision to transfer from Oregon in November, Hotchkins received interest from Arizona State, UNLV and Hawaii.

Under defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Cox, the Miners have sophomore Sione Tupou and junior Jamar Smith at the middle linebacker spot, while Dylan Parsee, Jayson VanHook and Kalaii Griffin make up the rest of the linebacker group. Adding Hotchkins will be interesting for the Miners to see where they place him in the linebacking group, but he will likely get some significant playing time with the Miners.

Under the Radar Addition

As if the quarterback competition for the Miners hasn’t heated up already, UTEP added a new name to their quarterback depth chart. Brandon Jones, a transfer from Bakersfield College, has joined the program and is already in full summer workout mode. He’s a 6-foot-2 gunslinger with two years of college eligibility under his belt.

Last season, Jones led Bakersfield College in passing yards, throwing for 1,248 yards on a whopping 62.7 percent completion rate, with 11 touchdowns. He can also run on the ground as a dual-threat capable quarterback. Head coach Dana Dimel alluded to his progress with UTEP thus far on Saturday’s show, saying he’s adding to the quarterback battle mix.

The Miners have seven quarterbacks currently listed on their roster, with guys like Kai Locksley and Ryan Metz leading the way for the starting quarterback battle. UTEP travels to Ruidoso, N.M, for their annual camp in the coming weeks, so it will be intriguing to see how they use Jones in the mix.

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