UTEP Football Roster Outlook: Running backs
In today’s college football world, running backs have been utilized in a way they have never been used before. More and more teams are utilizing multiple running backs in their system, whereas it used to be one back carrying all the load.
This same style will be highly utilized at UTEP, where running backs have battled through injuries and younger and younger tailbacks have to step up early on in their careers. From a seasoned running back like Quadraiz Wadley, to a converted back like Treyvon Hughes, this year’s running back class has a lot of potential for UTEP’s offense.
Here is the roster outlook for running backs:
Quadraiz Wadley - Junior - Kennedale HS; Kennedale, Texas
If healthy, Quadraiz Wadley has potential to be an All-Conference USA running back. Throughout his first two seasons, Wadley has shown flashes of greatness, and dare I say, flashes of Aaron Jones. He was the understudy to Jones during his freshman season, where he had 168 yards off 47 attempts.
What’s most impressive about Wadley is his unmatched speed and ability to spot holes in the defense. He can be a breakthrough back, who still hasn’t reached his highest potential. In a multiple running back system, Wadley can flourish and also avoid potential injuries, which plagued him throughout the 2017 season.
Joshua Fields - Sophomore - Americas HS; El Paso, Texas
Still young with a lot of potential, hometown running back Joshua Fields is ready to have a huge season this year. What’s great about Fields is if Wadley is in the backfield, you could put Fields in the slot and have him do damage by making him a receiving target. Not to mention, if you split reps with Fields and Wadley this season, the running backs could truly dominate games for the Miners.
As a freshman last season, Fields was asked to mature quickly and take a majority of carries on his own. He was the first true freshman running back to lead UTEP in rushing (362 yards on 89 attempts) since Jones did it in 2013.
Treyvon Hughes - Junior - Hebron HS; Waxahachie, Texas
Last year at this time, Treyvon Hughes was training with the linebacker unit and piled together an impressive 40 tackles, two quarterback hurries and 0.5 tackle for loss on the year. But during the offseason, Hughes made the switch back to running back, where he initially started with the Miners.
During the offseason workouts and spring season, it was evident how much of an improvement Hughes made in just months. It looked as if he had played tailback throughout his entire college years. He’s a 6-foot-1, sub-240 pound running back that is perfect in short-yard situations. After losing Kevin Dove last year to a transfer, Hughes will take the third-and-short hauls.
Quarterback Ryan Metz told me earlier this spring season that he believes Hughes will have a big year running the ball for the Miners.
Ronald Awatt - Sophomore - Frenship HS; Lubbock, Texas
Miner fans haven’t gotten a chance to see too much of Ronald Awatt thus far into his college years, but if he’s called upon, the 5-foot-11 tailback will respond. He’s agile and shifty, with the ability to bounce off tacklers. Last season he played in just two games and rushed for 13 yards total.
Former head coach Sean Kugler was high on Awatt, calling him a hard worker in practice and always wanted to get him involved, but never seemed to put him in games. Under running backs coach Reggie Mitchell, Awatt has the potential to grow more and gain more experience.
TK Powell - Junior - Chisum HS; Fort Worth, Texas
TK Powell’s interesting journey as a walk-on to a full scholarship player is an inspiring one for the Miners. As a freshman walk-on, Powell played in the last three games of the 2015 season for the Miners and rushed for 134 yards on 21 carries (6.4 average).
After being redshirted in 2016, Powell earned a full scholarship at Camp Ruidoso. Although he didn’t see much playing time in 2017, he can be utilized for depth his year at running back. He’s another speed back for the Miners and saw a lot of field time during the spring game.
Reynaldo Flores - RS Freshman - Ysleta HS; El Paso, Texas
Hometown running back Reynaldo Flores was one of the hardest working tailbacks that the Miners saw throughout the spring season. Although he might not see much playing time this year, he is a definite sleeper to become a playmaker someday.
At Ysleta, Flores played for three years on the varsity team and rushed for a whopping 3,352 yards on 58 carries and scored 28 touchdowns. He has deceiving speed and likes to use the edge to run the ball.