EL PASO, Texas -

UTEP announced on Wednesday that 23 student-athletes signed national letters of intent to attend and play football at UTEP.

“We are excited about our 2014 class,” head coach Sean Kugler said. “We have brought to UTEP 23 young men, who have excelled on the field and in the classroom. We have 20 high school athletes and three junior college players. Once again our core starts in El Paso, where for the second straight year we feel we signed the top players in the city.”

The list includes 13 players from Texas, five from California, two from New York and one each from Ohio, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

“We highlight 11 linemen, two running backs, one fullback, two tight ends and two wide receivers. On defense the aforementioned seven defensive linemen, two linebackers and three defensive backs,” Kugler said. “We are bringing in productive players and have added size to our numbers on offense and defense. We have added skill players in order to play the brand of ball we want to achieve here at UTEP and that is physical football.

Three transfers Alex Villareal, Jimmy Musgrave and Nick Jones are already attending classes at UTEP. True freshman Sterling Napier graduated from Cleveland High School in December and is currently enrolled at UTEP.

“Character was the number one criteria with every player,” Kugler said. “I am confident the Miner fans will appreciate these young men on and off the field.”

Below is complete information on the 2014 signing class.

Stephen Forester | Fr. | DE | 6-1 | 230 lbs.

Mesquite, Texas (Dallas Christian HS)


Started all four seasons on the varsity squad … recorded 99 tackles (71s/28a), 26 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and five blocked kicks during senior season … opened the 2013 season with a career-best five sacks against Dallas HSAA North (8/30) … returned a fumble 22-yards for a touchdown in a 48-10 victory over Shelton High School (10/25) … registered eight quarterback hurries twice in 2013 (vs. Parish Episcopal & Ft. Worth Christian) … named district MVP, named first-team All-State and first-team All-District after senior season … during junior season (2012), recorded 111 tackles (70s/41a), 22 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, five forced fumbles and five blocked kicks … named first-team All-District , first-team All-State and district defensive lineman of the year… tallied 48 stops (21s/27a) in sophomore season (2011) and set career-high with 12 tackles (5s/7a) during a 38-10 win over Regents High School (9/23) … posted four sacks and 25 tackles (18s/7a) as a freshman (2010) … made impact during first season with two games registering 10 tackles or more, while setting a season-high with 11 stops (nine solo) versus Trinity Christian (11/8) … three-time SportsDay HS defensive Player of the Week Honorable mention … TAPPS D-11 District 2 Defensive MVP, All-District defensive lineman first-team,  All-State defensive lineman first team and Academic All-State … Chargers recorded a 12-1 record in 2013 and won the TAPPS 3-III District title … son of Herschel and Cindy.


Alex Villarreal | Jr. | DT | 6-4 | 300 lbs.

Hidalgo, Texas (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College)


Started two seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College … had best season in 2012 where he helped the Golden Norsemen to their best record ever (9-3) … a three-star recruit on Rivals.com … received All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference honorable mention … started all 12 games as he tallied 80 tackles (33 solo) and two sacks … hit double-digit tackles twice during freshman season … notched a season-best 16 stops (six solo) against Navarro College (11/10/12) and tallied 11 tackles, also against Navarro College (10/27/12) … started all nine games in 2013 … recorded 46 tackles (18 solo), one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles … posted a season-best nine stops against Kilgore College (10/12/13) … signed with Oklahoma State in 2011 after senior season at Hidalgo High School where he recorded 10 sacks and had 12 tackles for loss …  in 2010 was a Scout three-star recruit … was named first team All-District, third team Dave Campbell Super Team, third team Texas Football Magazine Super Team and Texas Football Magazine Top 25 Defensive Lineman … son of Deanna.   



Jason Fao | Fr. | NG | 6-0 | 300 lbs.

Long Beach, Calif. (Long Beach Poly HS)


Four-year defensive starter for the Jackrabbits … posted 97.5 tackles (79s/18.5a), including 28 for loss and 8.5 sacks during senior season … finished career with 207.5 stops (135s/72.5a), 52 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks … scored a defensive touchdown during a 44-8 victory over St. Bonaventure High School in the CIF Southern Section football playoffs (11/22) …  tallied nine tackles (8s/1a), five tackles for loss and two sacks in a 13-0 win over Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School … was also utilized as a linebacker and used on offense as a lead blocker … helped Long Beach Poly High School post an 11-2 overall record (6-0 league record) … the Jackrabbits finished the 2013 season ranked No. 10 in California and No. 54 nationally … a two-star recruit on Rivals.com and Scout.com … ranked 72nd nose guard prospect in the nation … named to first-team Long Beach Press-Telegram 2013 Football Dream Team and selected to the All-CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division defensive team…was named first team All-Moore League and was selected as the Moore League Defensive Lineman of the Year … son of Jason and Mona-Lisa.

Mike Sota | Fr. | DT | 6-4 | 260 lbs.

Placenta, Calif. (Valencia HS)