UTEP Football Roster Outlook: Quarterbacks
Let this sit in your mind: UTEP football has not seen a consistent starter at quarterback since Jameill Showers in 2014. Through four seasons, the Miners attempted to place the likes of Mack Leftwich, Ryan Metz, Kavika Johnson, who converted to receiver last year, Zack Greenlee, among others, into the system at quarterback, but never truly found a starter they could keep for an entire season.
Under new head coach Dana Dimel and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Canales, the coaching staff has stressed the importance for this team naming a true starting quarterback. And this season, the depth at the position might fare for the best battle for the starting job that we’ve seen in years.
Below is the roster outlook for UTEP football quarterbacks:
Ryan Metz - Senior - Andress HS, El Paso
Although Ryan Metz is one of the most seasoned players on this football roster, he has not played an entire season since his landing at UTEP. The El Paso native came onto the college scene in Las Cruces, where Metz initiated a comeback against NMSU, scoring three touchdowns and the game-winning touchdown pass.
Now entering his senior season, Metz wants to take the starting reigns from the get-go. His 23 career touchdown passes are just one shy of being in the program’s top-10 all-time list. He has been responsible for 3,075 yards of total offense throughout his three seasons, with his best passing year coming from his sophomore season, where he threw for 1,375 yards.
Fun fact, this offseason Metz learned his fourth offense entering his fourth season, so needless to say, he’s got a grand football IQ.
Kai Locksley - Junior - Fort Washington, MD./Iowa Western CC
Coming in as the No. 4 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation, according to 24/7Sports, Kai Locksley will come into this summer quarterback battle with a fresh look that UTEP has not seen before. After transferring from Texas, he was named the 2017 Spalding® NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year during his sophomore season with Iowa Western CC. There he scored 20 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns. He is also the son of Mike Locksley, the offensive coordinator for Alabama.
Locksley, the 6-foot-4 product, is going to be a tough competitor in the quarterback battle. He showed throughout the spring game his ability to pass down the field, while also showing his speed by scrambling outside the pocket.
Mark Torrez - Sophomore - Eastwood HS, El Paso
The gunslinger out of Eastwood in Mark Torrez has taken major strides this offseason in efforts to throw his name into the quarterback battle. His 2015 season at Eastwood showed flashes of being a commanding signal caller with a strong arm.
After being redshirted in 2016, Torrez saw playing time at different points last season. He appeared in seven games last season, throwing for 126 yards and rushed for a touchdown. It was he who set the tone in the spring game for the Miners, as he was the first quarterback to score in the annual scrimmage. Torrez completed 6-of-7 passes for 44 yards on his opening drive, which resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kavika Johnson. He finished the spring game going 8-for-12 and totaling 62 yards through the air.
Alex Fernandes - RS Freshman - Vandegrift HS; Austin, Texas
The 6-foot-3 signal caller of Alex Fernandes has been doing his best to make a name for himself this offseason as well. In his senior year at Vandegrift, Fernandes thew for 1,559 yards, including 11 passing touchdowns. He was named a 3-star recruit by 247Sports, named District 25-6A second team offense in his senior and junior seasons and showed flashes of potential at the spring game, where he went 5-of-11 for 66 yards.
Calvin Brownholtz - Freshman - Jesuit HS; Carmichael, California
The 2018 offseason has been a busy one for freshman Calvin Brownholtz, from improving on his arm strength, to working out with former Miner and current quarterback whisperer Jordan Palmer. When you watch Brownholtz take snaps, one may agree that this gunslinger has a certain spark to his play.
In his senior year at high school, he passed for 2,333 yards and threw 26 touchdown passes. Brownholtz could be a starter two-three years down the line, if he improves. He has flashes of Dimel’s former quarterback at Kansas State, Collin Klein. And, of all the five quarterbacks at the spring game, Brownholtz threw for the most yardage (8-for-14 for 67 yards).
Brayden Hawkins - Freshman - Myers Park HS; Charlotte, N.C.
Incoming freshman Brayden Hawkins comes into the UTEP program with an impressive high school resume and high hopes for the program here. He finished his high school career with 54 touchdowns, to just 12 interceptions, and rushed for 10 touchdowns in 28 varsity games. Hawkins helped his team build a trip to the 2017 NCHSAA Football Championships and 2016 SCHSL Football Championships.
Hawkins will be join new coaching staff as their first freshman product and could also see a redshirt season coming his way this year. But if he’s groomed correctly under Dimel and Canales, he too could be a future starter.