EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP head coach Dana Dimel and the UTEP Football program spent Wednesday morning adding to their 2020 signing class in a big way, with the addition of 20 new Miners announced on National Signing Day.
The 20 new signees announced on Wednesday is a continuation from the early signing period on December 18th, when the Miners inked a total of 11 signees to national letters of intent.
Overall, the Miners signed 31 to the 2020 class between the December and February signing periods. Dimel and his staff brought in a total of 17 players on the defensive side of the ball, 10 on offense, two specialists and a pair of athletes.
In December, the Miners brought in a defensive-minded class with eight players added on defense, two offensive signees and an athlete. It was a different story, however, on Wednesday with a much more balanced signing class with eight on offense, nine defensive additions, two specialists and an athlete. UTEP’s defensive line and linebacker positions received the biggest bolsters in the signing class with a total of 14 from those position groups signing on to become Miners.
“We put a heavy emphasis on midyear defensive transfers [in December],” Dimel said on Wednesday afternoon. “With this group, we wanted to supplement the offense more. We feel like we’ve strengthened the offensive line, tight end and wide receiver positions, but we feel really good about the defensive line and linebacker spots as well.”
In addition to the seven junior college additions from December, UTEP signed eight additional transfers on Wednesday. Overall, the Miners brought in 16 high school products and 15 from the junior college ranks with the 2020 class.
Geographically, UTEP brought in 12 products from the Lone Star state, six from California and three from Arizona. The remaining signees were spread across the country, hailing from Florida (2), Georgia (1), Louisiana (1), Missouri (1), Tennessee (1), Iowa (1), Utah (1), Maryland (1) and New Mexico (1).
“We feel like we met all of our needs during this recruiting cycle,” Dimel stated. “Just like everybody else in the country, we’re still going to be in the market for grad transfers to fill voids. We’ll have a better idea of where those voids lie once we get through spring ball.”
The first three signees were announced between 8-9 a.m. MT on Wednesday morning when Amman Fifita (TE/Snow College/Salem Hills, Utah), Michael Flood (OL/Maricopa HS/Maricopa, Ariz.) and Zach Fryar (TE/NMMI/Venice, Fla.) officially signed on to become Miners. UTEP followed up with more newcomers added to the roster in Azizi Henry (OL/Wylie HS/Wylie, Texas), Michael Ike (DL/Hendrickson HS/Pflugerville, Texas), Jacob Moi (LB/Citrus Valley HS/Redlands, Calif.), Elijah Robinson (LB/Citrus Hill HS/Perris, Calif.), Xavier Simmons (LB/Parkland HS/El Paso, Texas) and Luke Soto (TE/Bakersfield/Tehachapi, Calif.) all before 10 a.m. MT.
From there, the Miners wrapped up the 10 o’clock hour with announcements for Osaiasi Taueli (LB/Mesa HS/Mesa, Ariz.), Angelo Tejada (LS/Judson HS/Converse, Texas), Sione Tonga’uiha (DL/Tempe HS/Tempe, Ariz.), Connor Villalpando (LS/Goddard HS/Roswell, N.M.), Christian Willis (WR/College of San Francisco/Sandy Spring, Md.) and Tucker Dunbar (OL/American River College/Folsom, Calif.).
Included in UTEP’s latest signees are a pair of midyear transfers in Gary Theard (LB/Chaffey College/Upland, Calif.) and Q’ Drennan (WR/New Mexico/El Paso, Texas), as well as two local high school products in Davis Burns (ATH/Coronado HS/El Paso, Texas) and Kiante Liggins (LB/Andress HS/El Paso, Texas) who signed on Wednesday.
Linebacker Connor Helsius (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), a junior college signee from Mt. San Antonio College, closed out a full day of action for the UTEP football program with his announcement coming on Wednesday afternoon.
With the conclusion of the 2020 signing periods, Dimel and the new-look Miners will now turn their attention to the start of spring football, which is just over a month away from the March 11 start date.
UTEP SIGNING DAY (DEC. 18, 2019)
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
Dennis Barnes DB 5-11 170 R-Jr. Jefferson City, Mo. (Fort Scott CC)
Willie Eldridge RB 5-11 190 Fr. Houston, Texas (Cy Ranch HS)
Verenzo Holmes DB 5-11 190 R-Jr. Grovetown, Ga. (NW Mississippi CC)
Ian James OL 6-5 275 Fr. Aubrey, Texas (Aubrey HS)
Tyrice Knight LB 6-1 235 R-So. Lakeland, Fla. (Independence CC)
Dresden McIver DT 6-0 278 Fr. San Antonio, Texas (Veterans Memorial HS)
Kelton Moss DT 6-2 295 Jr. Jonesboro, La. (Kilgore College)
Keenan Stewart DT 6-2 300 R-So. Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Iowa Western CC)
Jadrian Taylor DE 6-1 235 R-Jr. Lufkin, Texas (Kilgore College)
Khalil Warfield ATH 6-2 205 Fr. San Antonio, Texas (Antonian College Prep)
Deylon Williams DL 6-2 255 R-Jr. Smyrna, Tenn. (Independence CC)
UTEP SIGNING DAY (FEB. 5, 2020)
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
Davis Burns ATH 6-1 185 Fr. El Paso, Texas (Coronado HS)
Q’ Drennan WR 6-2 190 Gr. El Paso, Texas (New Mexico)
Tucker Dunbar OL 6-4 290 Jr. Folsom, Calif. (American River College)
Ammon Fifita TE 6-2 240 R-So. Salem Hills, Utah (Snow College)
Michael Flood OL 6-6 305 Fr. Maricopa, Ariz. (Maricopa HS)
Zach Fryar TE 6-3 245 So. Venice, Fla. (NMMI)
Connor Helsius LB 6-0 215 Jr. Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Mt. San Antonio College)
Azizi Henry OL 6-5 285 Fr. Wylie, Texas (Wylie HS)
Michael Ike DL 6-3 270 Fr. Pflugerville, Texas (Hendrickson HS)
Kiante Liggins LB 6-1 210 Fr. El Paso, Texas (Andress HS)
Jacob Moi LB 6-3 220 Fr. Redlands, Calif. (Citrus Valley HS)
Elijah Robinson LB 6-2 225 Fr. Perris, Calif. (Citrus Hill HS)
Xavier Simmons LB 6-1 210 Fr. El Paso, Texas (Parkland HS)
Luke Soto TE 6-6 255 So. Tehachapi, Calif. (Bakersfield College)
Osaiasi Taueli LB 6-2 225 Fr. Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS)
Angelo Tejada LS 5-10 200 Fr. Converse, Texas (Judson HS)
Gary Theard LB 6-3 220 Jr. Upland, Calif. (Chaffey College)
Sione Tonga’uiha DL 6-1 285 Fr. Tempe, Ariz. (Tempe HS)
Connor Villalpando LS 6-0 185 Fr. Roswell, N.M. (Goddard HS)
Christian Willis WR 6-2 195 Jr. Sandy Spring, Md. (City College of San Francisco)