The UTEP football team announced 11 players to round out the early signing class, featuring eight athletes on defense and a mix of JUCO and high school recruits.

In addition to these 11 players, the Miners anticipate announcing 10-12 more recruits on National Signing Day in February, per head coach Dana Dimel. The program has doubled its recruiting spending, per Dimel, and will continue to visit as many schools as possible.

The philosophy behind this early recruiting class was to grab a batch of mid-year transfers that can join the team in the spring. Dimel stressed the need to recruit heavily on the defensive side, which he believes the staff executed.

Down the pipeline, UTEP expects to sign another offensive lineman, a couple of linebackers, receivers and tight ends and focus on improving the secondary. According to Dimel, the team has used about "80 percent" of their scholarships going into January.

Dimel touched on each individual that UTEP signed today as well. Offensively, he praised running back Willie Eldridge's explosive, physical abilities in the backfield and likes the young crop of tailbacks UTEP has. He called lineman Ian James "athletic and long" and says that James will have an opportunity to play with the second and third teams. Khalil Warfield will join the quarterbacks when he comes to UTEP, but Dimel believes he could be an immediate impact as a receiver too.

Defensively was the primary emphasis of the early recruiting period. Dimel explained how the defensive scheme will change a bit, putting four defensive linemen upfront instead of three. This explains why Dimel and staff signed five defensive linemen, including pass rusher Jadrian Taylor, a speedy 6-foot-1 pass rusher from Kilgore College. The team hopes that linebacker Tyrice Knight could be integral in the run defense and called him a "big-time linebacker." For the secondary, the Miners grabbed Dennis Barnes and Verenzo Holmes to help bolster the depth of a young UTEP defensive backfield.

Seven players have entered their names in the transfer portal, according to 247Sports, but Dimel is not concerned about players deciding to transfer. Rather, Dimel believes that it is a reflection of how college players are easily able to transfer nowadays and says some have requested to return to UTEP.

When asked if he felt a sense of urgency entering year three, Dimel said that he doesn't and that he is here to build the program for the long-term with time.

More From 600 ESPN El Paso