UTEP Football 2020 Outlook: Meet the Returners at Safety
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 seven of an offseason series preview for the Miners' upcoming season with the idea that the season takes place as scheduled.
At the safety position last year, the Miners ended with Justin Rogers, Michael Lewis and Adrian Hynson closing out the year in the secondary. All three graduated over the offseason but head coach Dana Dimel feels extremely good about his three projected starters at the safety spot.
Returning off a season-ending injury from last year, Justin Prince headlines not just the safeties but the entire secondary. He led the Miners last year in tackles (27) before he broke his foot against Southern Miss. Prince will be the starting free safety of the group.
"That is a position last year that was hit pretty hard by injuries," Dimel explained. "Justin Prince, who is probably our very best player in our secondary, got hurt after the Southern Miss game but the good news is he got that year back. He's going to be able to have multiple years of eligibility in our program. But he's got himself healthy and feeling at a high level right now so he'll be our strong safety in our package."
The coaching staff likes what Dy'vonne Inyang has done over the offseason to get better. He chipped in with 14 tackles through 12 games. He will play the low safety/nickel position for the Miners this year as the projected starter.
"He's slated to start at our low safety/nickel position," Dimel said. "Dvonne will be the starter there on every down. He's looking really good, got himself into really good shape and just a physical tackler. Really love his intensity that he brings to the table.
It's been two seasons since we've seen Broderick Harrell play for the Miners but the redshirt junior, who was out all of last year, is back in the mix and the projected starter at the weak safety spot. Coaches commend his athleticism and think highly of the Lubbock native.
"At our weak safety position we have a guy that's been in the program for a while and scheduled to start with us at the position but got hurt the last week of camp, never got to play at all," Dimel added. "Broderick is a guy that I think is a very good player that's gonna have a chance to really showcase what he can do."
Having redshirted last year, McKel Broussard has an opportunity to work his way into the safety rotation this year. The California native was highly regarded out of high school, as a 2018 All-American Bowl Selection.
"Mckell's dad was the associate (basketball) head coach at UCLA under Steve Alford," Dimel said. "Mckel comes from a great sports family, grew up around athletics and I think he's gonna be a really solid player," Dimel said. "He will be challenging for a starting position this year. We redshirted him last year and he's one of the players at that position that we feel really good about."
The Miners added Deshaun Trotter of Sacramento City College over the offseason. The junior finished last year with 47 tackles at the JUCO level and will look to provide depth at the spot.
"Deshaun Trotter who's 6-2, 210 pounds safety that looks really good," Dimel said. "He actually played corner and safety at Junior College and he can really do any of those things. He can cover, he can pressure, he really looks like an SEC type of safety out there. We're really excited about him."
Coming from California, redshirt junior Ty'reke James will round out the depth chart for the safeties at UTEP. He appeared in the first two games of the season last year before being redshirted.
"Ty'reke James is a junior college player that we feel really highly of. We redshirted a lot of guys in our secondary last year. (He) rounds out our top six safeties," Dimel added