Former UTEP, NMSU stars find success in NFL preseason


EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – With the 2021 NFL preseason getting underway in full force this weekend, multiple former UTEP Miners and New Mexico State Aggies were on display leaguewide.

First for the Miners, Miami Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham broke up two passes and racked up three tackles in Miami’s loss to the Chicago Bears on Saturday afternoon. An undrafted free agent out of UTEP, Needham played well for the Dolphins in his first two seasons in 2019 and 2020.

That strong play got him a new contract with the Dolphins for the 2021 season; if he performs well again, he could be in for a big pay day soon.

“That feels good, for sure,” said Needham. “It’s more motivation to keep balling for them and show them that I am the player they think I can be.”

His UTEP teammate Kai Locksley is also on the Dolphins; the former quarterback has moved to wide receiver and played vs. the Bears, but did not record any statistics.

Former Miners defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris signed a lucrative three-year contract worth nearly $29 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason and made his Jaguars debut on Saturday, making one tackle.

Robertson-Harris grew into a bigger role with the Bears the last few seasons, resulting in the big pay day.

“It’s just hard work and dedication, getting up early and staying up late. Now it’s to feed my family, at the time it was just to make the team. Now, I have mouths to feed and work to do,” said Robertson-Harris.

New York Giants offensive lineman Will Hernandez started on Saturday vs. the Jets. The former Miner was a second round pick in 2018 and is entering his fourth season in the NFL. Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones did not play in his team’s loss to the Houston Texans.

One former Borderland star did play in the Packers-Texans clash, though. Former New Mexico State defensive lineman Roy Lopez recorded a sack in his first NFL action for the Texans, who drafted him in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft.

Lopez played the 2020 season at Arizona after transferring away from NMSU. His former Aggies teammate, Jason Huntley, carried the ball four times for 15 yards for the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

Both Huntley and Lopez are making names for themselves in training camp and stand a good chance of making their respective rosters.

Elsewhere, former Aggie Winston Rose made one tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals in their 19-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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