UTEP Football 2020 Outlook: Let’s Meet the Cornerbacks
Editor's note: Sports are constantly evolving on a daily basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making a lot of the 2020 season still uncertain. This story is part four of an offseason series preview for the Miners' upcoming season with the idea that the season takes place as scheduled.
It's time to talk about the cornerbacks for the UTEP football team.
In their new defensive setup, the Miners can set up various schemes for their cornerbacks. UTEP is able to throw their nickel corner in the mix depending on odd or even packages. This group of players brings experience to the table along with some newcomers that head coach Dana Dimel continues to be high on.
"It's such an important position," Dimel spoke about the cornerbacks position. "If you have a good corner, you're able to do a lot of things. I'll marry the nickel corner into the position a little as well. Nickel is a guy that can play the man coverage and we will hybrid out some of our corners to that position as well."
Josh Caldwell enters his final season with the Miners and brings tons of experience to the cornerback position. Last year, he started in 11 games at the position and led UTEP at 11 pass breakups and chipped in with 52 tackles (36 solo). He's primed for a prominent final year at UTEP.
"One of the guys that has had a tremendous offseason through this and so disciplined," Dimel said. "He's a guy that I got so see run really well. Josh was obviously a starter for us last year and a returner at the spot. Like most guys, he's gotten himself so much better and his leadership has been incredible to our football team. I think he's going to have an incredible season at corner. No one prepares himself better than Josh does."
Duron Lowe will take the opposite starting cornerback position who is also entering his final year as a Miner. As a JUCO transfer from Kansas, Lowe started in 11 of 12 games for the Miners last year. He finished last year with six pass breakups, 25 tackles and a forced fumble. He also was recognized as an All-C-USA honorable mention for special teams, where he returned 11 kickoffs for 281 yards (team-high 25.5-yard average).
"At the other corner spot, scheduled to start is Duron Lowe," Dimel said. "I don't think you'll need more talent from the corner spot than what Duron gives us. He was committed to Texas Tech but had some academic trouble and we ended up getting him. He's a Big 12 caliber player that had a solid year last year. His preparation and mature has really improved as well. He's got a chance to really be good."
Joining the Miners as a JUCO transfer, Dennis Barnes will have a significant role right away for the secondary. Barnes will be tasked as the projected starter at the nickel corner spot. He played two seasons at Fort Scott Community College, where he finished with 25 total tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups.
"Dennis Barnes is a young man that we brought from Ft. Scott Community College," Dimel said. "And Dennis in workouts was the fastest guy we have. He had gone to a KU camp his senior year and ran a 4.3 on college coaches watches. He's super fast, super athletic and won all our summer conditioning programs. He's going to be hard to keep off the field. He's going to be pushing for one of those corner positions or the nickel position."
Robert Corner III is a player that the coaching staff raved about during the 2019 signing period. Although he didn't play this year, Dimel explained that he will have opportunities to see the field in 2020. At Cerritos, Corner III racked up 48 tackles (27 solo), four interceptions (12 yards), 10 pass break-ups and two forced fumbles.
"Robert Corner is a really talented player we recruited out of Cerritos College and he redshirted last year for academic reasons," Dimel said. "He'll be eligible this year and has some really good length, runs extremely hard and will provide us some depth there."
Other cornerbacks on the roster:
Traveion Ballard - Jr.