UTEP Football Adds Several Significant JUCO Players Before Fall Camp, Says Dimel
Ahead of what could be their most favorable season in years, fourth-year UTEP head coach Dana Dimel met with the Conference USA media brass on Thursday to talk about his squad in depth.
Fall camp gets underway next week for the Miners, which is an opportunity for the team to fine-tune details before they open the season against NM State on Aug. 28. The Miners' roster shows most of their experienced guys returning this year. And on Thursday, Dimel revealed that the squad added some late, yet significant pieces to the mix.
The headliners for the late summer additions included a pair of All-Americans in safety Trejon Hugue (Cisco College) and linebacker James Neal (Tyler College). Dimel also talked about snagging defensive tackle Tavita Tafuna (San Mateo College), cornerback Torey Richardson (Blinn) and offensive lineman Otis Pitts (Cisco).
According to the latest roster, UTEP has also picked up former TCU wide receiver Penny Baker, offensive lineman Jagves Garnett (Ellsworth CC), safety Caden Herr (Mission Veijo, Calif.), defensive end Quincy Montgomery (Porter HS, Houston) and safety Brady Wolfe (Frenship HS).
"There are only 22 of those guys," said Dimel regarding JUCO All-Americans. "We got two of them."
The All-American safety had a strong bounce-back season at Cisco College, totaling 67 tackles and two interceptions in seven games played. He started his college career at Texas State after being a Class 5A First-Team All-State prospect from Lake Ridge HS (Mansfield, Texas).
Another All-American here in linebacker James Neal packs a punch and comes highly regarded out of JUCO. The Paris, Texas, native played one season at Abilene Christian before having a breakout campaign at Tyler. He averaged 9.8 tackles per game, with two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He has three years of eligibility under his belt.
A short, speedy slot receiver. That's how you can describe incoming TCU transfer Penny Baker, who has already impressed members of the football team at practice. He put together a 1,000+ receiving campaign and totaled 14 touchdowns during his senior season at Austin Westlake. His squad made a deep run into the playoffs and they were ranked No. 18 in Texas. After enrolling, then transferring from Baylor, and due to the lack of playing time at TCU, the speedy wideout landed at UTEP.
"Our talent—especially after testing our numbers at the end of the summer—[shows] we're a strong football team. I feel great about our numbers. Now we need great preparation and go into every game expecting to win." - Dana Dimel, C-USA Media Day