EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – After a season-opening win over Stephen F. Austin, the task suddenly gets much tougher for UTEP. The Miners will go from playing an FCS team, to one of college football’s traditional powerhouse programs: the 14th-ranked Texas Longhorns.

Unfortunately, UTEP won’t be at full strength.

Starting running back Quardraiz Wadley has opted out of the 2020 season, multiple sources confirmed to KTSM on Monday night. The opt-out clause is a new option for players to use during the COVID-19 pandemic; while Wadley will remain on scholarship at UTEP, he cannot participate in any football activities.

Wadley missed all of 2019 after having surgery on his foot; the injury is still nagging him one year later and he wants to get healthy in order to have a future in football, sources said.

Head coach Dana Dimel told the media on Monday afternoon that the redshirt senior would not play on Saturday against the Longhorns, and there wasn’t a timetable for his return. Wadley had just 3 carries for 8 yards against the Lumberjacks on Saturday. Dimel cited Wadley’s nagging injury on Monday when asked if he would be absent against Texas.

“It’s not the Q Wadley that we all know and love. It’s not there, his game is not there,” said Dimel. “We started him because we care so much about him and he’s such a leader for our team, but he’s just not healthy. So that’s a big part of what affected his play on Saturday.”

Dimel added that Wadley’s injured made it difficult for him to get up to speed during UTEP’s shortened fall camp. While Wadley has opted out and is a redshirt senior, he will still have a year of eligibility remaining. The NCAA in August elected to give all fall sports athletes another year of eligibility due to the pandemic.

Wadley is not the only UTEP player to opt out of 2020. Quarterback TJ Goodwin opted out before the start of the season, as did former Eastwood standouts Mark Torrez and Richie Rodriguez.

With Wadley gone for the season, expect a heavy dose of Deion Hankins and Josh Fields in the backfield for UTEP. Hankins rushed for a career-high 113 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. SFA.

The Miners play the Longhorns at 6 p.m. Saturday night in Austin. The game can be seen on the Longhorn Network.