UTEP Quarterback Battle on the Forefront of Fall Camp
As fall camp approaches for the Miners football team, UTEP will turn its focus to the number one priority: establishing depth at the quarterback spot.
The Miners are forced to wait out the court developments with Kai Locksley's case, following his arrest in June, and could be looking at life without Locksley at quarterback for the 2019 season.
At C-USA Media day last week, head coach Dana Dimel expressed how the quarterback depth is a top priority for the team.
“Of course we want to establish our quarterback position right now, and get a good three-deep at the quarterback position," Dimel told media members last week. "That’s a dynamic spot for us right now."
Expanding on depth at quarterback and other positions, Dimel said: “Depth at quarterback is definitely a big concern for us. I talked about some of the depth in our defensive line, replacing an A.J. Hotchkins at the middle linebacker position, and just the overall play of our linebacker position is going to be very critical for us.”
One could presume the frontrunner for the starting job is senior quarterback Brandon Jones, who was in and out of the mix due to the injuries that both Locksley and Ryan Metz suffered last year. Jones finished the 2018 season with 673 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and five interceptions.
After Jones, there will be six other quarterbacks also battling for playing time. Texas Football's Shehan Jeyarajah reported that there have been two JUCO quarterbacks added to the depth chart for the Miners in Gavin Hardison and Isaiah Bravo.
Hardison, who will have four years to play three seasons, per Texas Football, appeared in five games for New Mexico Military Institute in 2018. At the JUCO level, Hardison threw for 408 yards, four passing touchdowns and four interceptions.
At the Hobbs High School in New Mexico, Hardison's numbers were beyond impressive in 2017. He was second in the nation with 5,347 passing yards and threw 59 touchdowns.
Coming out of Cerritos, which has become a pipeline of talent for UTEP, Bravo finished his time the JUCO level with 2,125 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and a 52 percent completion rate.
Also in the quarterback mix will be hometown product Mark Torrez, redshirt freshman Calvin Brownholtz and true freshman TJ Goodwin. Torrez hasn't been given a true chance to lead the offense during his time at UTEP, having only played in eight games during his college career. Brownholtz is still pretty fresh in the mix and even though Goodwin joined the squad in January by graduating early from high school, it will probably take him some time to get acclimated to the college level.
So as the fall camp approaches, the offense will need to be critical in the evaluation process, similar to the quarterback battle between Locksley and Ryan Metz last year. As of right now, it seems like Jones is the frontrunner for the starting job based on experience and how he was used last year.
The Miners will kick off fall practice on Thursday, Aug. 1, and head out to Ruidoso starting on Aug. 4.