EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Every since he took his first reps at the Division I level at UTEP, Gavin Hardison has always shown flashes of brilliance.

The issue for the Hobbs, N.M., product now entering his final season of eligibility for the Miners in 2023, has always been his inconsistency.

With nine starters back on offense and seven on defense, sixth-year head coach DanaDimel thinks the 2023 Miners could be the most athletic he’s had at UTEP. They need a bounce-back season from quarterback Hardison in his final season with the Miners.

After a stellar year in 2021, Hardison regressed in 2022, throwing for 2,044 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions and completing just 52.1 percent of his passes.

Dimel has taken on a bigger role within the quarterbacks room this year, participating in meetings with Hardison and first-year offensive coordinator Scotty Ohara more than he did under veteran O.C. Dave Warner the last two years.

“I’m looking for Gavin to have an outstanding season for us. We’ve got one of the best offensive lines in college football and some receivers to complement him,” Dimel said. “I think being in the room more as a play-caller is important.”

To his credit, Hardison understands that he needs to have a career year for the Miners to achieve all of their lofty 2023 goals. He told KTSM last week that this has been his best fall camp since coming to UTEP and the Miners’ best as a whole, too.

He’s getting some interest from the NFL ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft; the Kansas City Chiefs had a scout at practice this week speaking with him and he’s been put on a few lists of Group of Five quarterbacks to watch.

For Hardison, though, it’s always been about winning at UTEP; it’s always been about the team for him, characterized by the coaching staff choosing him to wear the prestigious number two with “Laufenberg” on the back, in honor of the late Luke Laufenberg, a former Miners tight end.

“It’s the same goals. My mentality is that if I perform and put the team in the best position to win, then everything will take care of itself,” Hardison said.

UTEP will open the 2023 season on the road at Conference USA newcomer Jacksonville State at 3:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.