Ten Players to Watch at the UTEP Football Spring Showcase
Happy UTEP football spring ball gameday!
The Miners will wrap up spring practices with a showcase set for 6 p.m. on Friday at the Sun Bowl. Gates open at 5 p.m. and tickets are free—in person Sun Bowl North Box Office (at 4 p.m.) and online at UTEPMiners.com/tickets.
UTEP head coach Dana Dimel is entering his fifth season at the helm of the program. Miner fans will get to watch 14 mid-year transfers debut in the orange and blue. Let’s go over 10 players to watch in the spring showcase:
No. 4 | Tyler Junior College | Redshirt Sophomore
The Tyler JC transfer in Akharaiyi ranked first in receiving yards (681) with his school last year. He has emerged immediately this spring as a player that will make a difference among the receivers. When UTEP lost Justin Garrett (graduation) and Jacob Cowing (transfer) from last year, they needed to get some help. Akharaiyi might have a chance to be a Garrett-type wideout for the squad.
No. 0 | Kilgore College | Sophomore
The defensive end position has been stacked for the Miners these past few years. This year, the squad returns standouts Jadrian Taylor and Praise Amaewhule. Now, they might have a fierce backup edge rusher in Westmoreland. The 6-foot-2 defensive end racked up 29 tackles, 5.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups at Kilgore College. The coaching staff loves what he's able to do.
No. 28 | Cisco College | Redshirt Sophomore
The running back group is already full of players with experience, led by Ronald Awatt, Deion Hankins and Rey Flores. Throw in freshman Willie Eldrige and this running back core is going to be a strong point once again for this team. Now, another running back has emerged in the mix in Walker. The 5-foot-9 scat-back has impressed during his time playing spring ball with the team. He rushed for 302 yards with two touchdowns in seven games during the spring 2021 season at Cisco College.
No. 2 | Louisiana | Sophomore
The defensive secondary has a tough task in filling voids that players like Dy'vonne Inyang, Josh Caldwell and Walter Neil Jr. (all graduates) have left behind. The squad needed defensive backs that could play immediately. One solution to their safety position might be Lousiana transfer Kobe Hylton. He has an opportunity to compete for a starting spot alongside safety Justin Prince and nickel cornerback Dennis Barnes.
No. 9 | Tyler JC | Redshirt Sophomore
Is it possible that UTEP can have an all JUCO Texas starting wide receiver core? With Tyrin Smith (Cisco JC) back from last year and Akharaiyi (Tyler JC) emerging this spring, this is very possible—if Jostein Clarke can earn the other starting gig. He redshirted last year simply because the Miners felt comfortable with their wide receiver group. The coaching staff thinks he has a good chance to be a stellar receiver for the squad.
No. 22 | Sacramento City College | Sophomore
Just like Hylton is vying for a safety position, Josiah Allen is tasked to compete for one of the opening cornerback positions on the Miners. The 5-foot-10 California native totaled 51 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception for Sacramento City College as a freshman.
No. 78 | Long Beach City College | Sophomore
It's not fair to have too high of expectations for some of these mid-year guys. For Aluma Nkele, the offensive lineman might have an NFL ceiling. He is a monster, towering at 6-foot-8 and weighing in at 390 pounds. The coaching staff loves what he can do up front. The spring showcase will give us a first glimpse of how far Nkele has come along.
No. 33 | Selma (TX) Veterans Memorial HS | Redshirt Freshman
Though he hasn't had a chance to get on the field yet for the Miners, McIver-Brown is a name to watch in the two-deep among the defensive line. The defensive tackles are led by the dynamic pairing of Kelton Moss and Keenan Stewart. Similar to how the edge rushers rotate frequently during games, the interior tackles also rely on depth. McIver-Brown is expected to contribute this year for the squad.
No. 0 | Houston Dobie HS | Redshirt Freshman
The towering 6-foot-4, athletic wideout in Jeremiah Ballard could have a breakout season for the Miners. Split him out far wide and let him catch deep balls. Throw him in the slot and let him flash his route-running. Whatever his role ends up being on this team, I can't wait to watch Ballard's progression. He was redshirted last year and played in four of the first six games to get a taste of in-game action.
No. 21 | Santa Barbara CC | Sophomore
The Miners have some questions at the kick return/punt return position going into 2022. Dimel talked about upgrading at the position and he feels like the team has done so by adding mid-year transfer Marcus Bellon. The 5-foot-9 speedy returner scored on four punt returns and two kickoff returns for Santa Barbara CC. He actually set a conference record for most touchdown returns in a season by a kickoff/punt return specialist. Friday will be the first time Miner fans get to see him field punts.