EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Gavin Hardison will be the starting quarterback for UTEP when the Miners open the season against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 5, Dana Dimel announced on Sunday.
A redshirt sophomore from Hobbs, New Mexico, Hardison had been getting the bulk of the first team reps the last few days. Now, he’ll be getting all of them with less than two weeks left until the scheduled season opener.
“It’s important for him to start taking over the role of that and unequivocally having that role,” Dimel said. “I think our team will feed off that pretty well.”
As recently as Saturday, Dimel said he wasn’t ready to name Hardison the starter, but things change quickly in college football. Redshirt freshman TJ Goodwin had been battling Hardison for the starting gig, but was not at practice on Sunday. Dimel gave no timeline for Goodwin’s return. However, on Sunday night, Goodwin announced on social media that he was opting out of the 2020 season.
“It’s not anything I could talk about right now,” Dimel said at the time. When asked directly if Goodwin was going to transfer, Dimel also declined to comment.
Per UTEP officials, there were no new positive cases of COVID-19 to report on Sunday. As of Sunday evening, Goodwin’s name was not in the NCAA Transfer Portal, sources told KTSM. It is not immediately clear if he also intends to transfer after opting out. If he chooses to transfer, UTEP has 48 hours to place him in the portal.
With Goodwin out of the mix, Dimel wasn’t shy about naming Hardison the starter, coming right out with the information when asked. With less than two weeks until opening day, naming a starter now is good for the continuity of the Miners’ offense.
“Obviously his play has been good throughout camp, he’s been consistent with what he’s doing and his checks and things are rock solid,” said Dimel. “There are a lot of positives with what he’s doing and now (his teammates will) be looking at the same guy all the time.”
Hardison played in two games for the Miners in 2019, throwing for 335 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, but completed just 44 percent of his passes.
With a full offseason to work on his craft and now being handed the reins, Hardison is excited to see what the Miners can do.
“I’m more experienced, so I feel more confident out there in what I’m doing,” Hardison said at the start of camp. “It will give me the opportunity to help all the other dudes out.”
Behind Hardison on the depth chart now are redshirt sophomore Calvin Brownholtz and senior Isaiah Bravo, a transfer from Cerritos College (Calif.).
The Miners will host Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 5 at Sun Bowl Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.