UTEP hoping for big impact from running backs


EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – It’s never easy to break in a new starting quarterback at any level and that will be no different for UTEP with Gavin Hardison on Saturday night against Stephen F. Austin.

For any new signal caller though, their best friend can be a solid running game, and with as many as four running backs that figure to get carries this season, the Miners feel like it could be a strength this fall.

There’s some good talent and some good depth at that position,” said head coach Dana Dimel. “I’m really looking forward to watching those guys get out on the field and make plays.”

Hardison has seen action in just two games in his UTEP career and having a solid rotation of backs at his disposal will be helpful.

He doesn’t have to worry about just beating the defense with his arm. We can help him and compliment him and just get him rolling,” said senior running back Josh Fields.

With native El Pasoans Fields and freshman Deion Hankins in the fold, along with others, the Miners would already have plenty of talent in the backfield. However, with the return of Quardraiz Wadley from injury, UTEP gets arguably its most talented player back in the lineup.

Wadley missed all of 2019 after undergoing toe surgery during fall camp, but as a junior in 2018, he led the Miners with 627 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns, seven of which came on the ground.

“Whenever I get back out there I just know I’m going to be fired up,” said the redshirt senior Wadley. “I’m going to do everything I possibly can to make sure we get a win.”

Dimel is excited to see how much more dynamic the Miners can be with Wadley returning to the backfield.

“He’s really mentally geared in. He’s worked a lot on his fundamentals and he understands the system because it’s his third year in the system,” said Dimel. “I think all of that is working in his advantage right now.”

With the overall versatility the Miners have in the backfield, they think anyone could go off at any given time.

“We all bring something unique and I feel like in each part of the game, we can complement each other and come in and give everyone different looks,” said Fields.

As it prepares for Saturday’s game, UTEP completed its second round of  COVID-19 testing on Wednesday. Per new Conference USA regulations issued on Monday the Miners must test 3 times per week. They’ve done it Monday and Wednesday and will do it one more time before gameday, on Friday.

UTEP and SFA kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.

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