Double Digits for the Rookie
True freshman Devin Cockrell started at weak safety against New Mexico and responded by posting 10 tackles, eight of which were assisted. He became the first UTEP true freshman with a double-digit tackle game since LB Braxton Amy had 15 stops versus Rice on Nov. 4, 2006.
In the Trenches
UTEP’s projected starting offensive line of Brander Craighead, Jerel Watkins, Paulo Melendez, Kyle Brown and Mike Amdallaverages 6-4, 298 pounds. The projected starting defensive line of Adam Ayala, James Davidson, Silas Firstley and Marcus Bagley averages 6-2, 274 pounds.
Seventeen Division I schools have at least one Canadian on their 2013 roster, including UTEP in starting left tackle Brander Craighead. The other programs, with a combined 31 Canadian products, are Michigan State (4), Iowa (3), UNLV (3), Virginia (3), Boston College (2), Buffalo (2), Connecticut (2), Eastern Michigan (2), Rice (2), Arizona State (1), Mississippi State (1), North Carolina (1), Northern Illinois (1), Penn State (1), Utah State (1) and Virginia Tech (1). Craighead is in his third year as a starter. He was selected by the Calgary Stampeders with the seventh pick in the first round of the 2013 CFL Draft. Under CFL rules, the Stampeders can redshirt Craighead this season while he completes his college eligiblity.
Two years after completing an eight-year run with the U.S. Army, Michael Kelly is a 27-year old linebacker hoping to make the most of his senior year with the Miners. He is expected to be utilized on special teams this fall. Kelly’s service dates were from October, 2003 to June, 2011. He was stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. (2004-05), Darmstadt Germany (2005-07) and Fort Bliss, Texas (2007-11). He worked in communications including as a switching system operator. His highest title was platoon sergeant (2009-11). He and his wife, Denise, have two sons, Kenneth (six years old) and Michael Jr., who will turn two years old on Oct. 14.
Leslie Eyes Receiving List
Junior Jordan Leslie has 1,415 receiving yards in a UTEP uniform, leaving him just 519 away from cracking the Miners’ all-time top-10 chart. He is tied for 13th place in 100-yard games (four), and is one of only six UTEP players to record 200 yards in a game (218 at Tulsa last season). Leslie is one of 12 players returning nationally in 2013 who registered a 200-yard game a year ago, joining Duke’s Jamison Crowder, Central Michigan’s Titus Davis, Florida Atlantic’s William Dukes, Bowling Green’s Chris Gallon, Arizona’s Austin Hill, USC’s Marqise Lee, Toledo’s Bernard Reedy, Miami (Ohio)’s Dawan Scott, Marshall’s Tommy Shuler, Ball State’s Willie Snead and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. A standout in the classroom as well, Leslie was one of 14 players tabbed to the 2012 Conference USA All-Academic Football Team.
New Look on Both Sides of the Ball
UTEP has switched to a 4-2-5 formation in its first year under defensive coordinator Scott Stoker. Stoker was hired as UTEP’s defensive coordinator in late April after Jeff Choate departed to become the special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Florida. The Miners are implementing a two-back, pro style offense as well.
Defense Runs Through Miller
After accumulating 11 sacks in his first two years with the Miners after transferring from Louisville, senior Horace Miller was moved from defensive end to Mike linebacker. Last season Miller picked up six sacks, most by a UTEP player in seven years, while adding 7.5 tackles for losses. Two of his sacks came versus Big Ten power Wisconsin. He is one sack away from tying four players (Joe Terry, Ross Puritty, Ricky Massey, Barron Wortham) for 10th place on the all-time UTEP list.
Up Next: UTSA
The Miners will return home to take on Conference USA opponent UTSA on Saturday, Sept. 21 in the Sun Bowl. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. MT. The Roadrunners are in their second season as an FBS school and third year with football and will be facing UTEP for the first time. Coach Larry Coker was recipient of the AFCA and Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Awards in 2001 after leading Miami (Fla.) to a 12-0 record and national championship.
Source: UTEP Athletics