EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The duo of Ronald Awatt and Deion Hankins will be the ultimate 1-2 punch combo at the running back position for UTEP football in the 2022 season.

Awatt, a redshirt senior, is coming off a breakout year where he collected 844 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in 13 games played. The product out of Lubbock, Texas was the Miners’ leading rusher in 2021. Right behind him though was Deion Hankins, who rushed for 458 yards on 121 carries. Hankins also tallied six rushing touchdowns on the year.

With both Awatt and Hankins returning for 2022, the two are ready to show how much of a lethal duo they can be on the field.

“We bring something different to the table, but we also complement each other at the same time,” said Awatt. “He [Deion Hankins] goes in and does his thing, I go in and do my thing. We both get the offense going and kind of get the defense on their toes, so it is a good little one-two punch.”

If the 1-2 punch combo doesn’t sound dangerous to you, the duo of Awatt and Hankins also go by the name of ‘lighting and thunder’. Its a duo name that UTEP’s strength and conditioning coaches call Awatt and Hankins.

“They say he [Ronald Awatt] is lighting and I am thunder,” said Hankins. “He’s a little bit shiftier than I am, but it is just cool to see the different aspects of our game because I am more of a power back, downhill and stuff, and he is more lateral and he can do basically both things.”

Awatt and Hankins were named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List in July. The award is given out at the end of every season to the best running back in college football. The expectations for the two running backs have been raised for 2022.

“Real high expectations for them and I think they’ve prepared to a high level,” said UTEP football head coach Dana Dimel. “Deion [Hankins] is hungry to come back after last year where he was playing injured and Ronald [Awatt] had a good last year and really gained a lot of confidence. He’s been working extremely hard so both of them are prepared extremely hard and I am excited to watch those guys run.”

Even though Dimel will have Hankins and Awatt at his disposal for 2022, he is ready to show off the depth he has at the running back position.

“They [Deion Hankins and Ronald Awatt] are going to be the 1-2 punch but I’ve always liked to have three, four running backs,” said Dimel. “It is just something I feel comfortable with doing. I have been doing it for a long time, probably the last 20 years that I’ve been coaching, to have at least three to four guys and we are going to try and work towards that even though [Hankins and Awatt] would be the two big guys.”

The Miners also return Rey Flores and Jalen Joseph at the running back position. They also have the new additions of Torrance Burgess Jr. and Cartraven Walker.

“At the running back position I think we did a nice job of adding Cartraven Walker and Torrance Burgess,” said Dimel. “I am excited about those guys because we have our top three in Deion [Hankins], Ronald [Awatt], and Rey [Flores] and then adding those two to the mix has really helped us and helped me feel more comfortable about the depth that we have that position. The way they complement each other is important too.”

It looks like the Miners will posses a very talented, versatile group of running backs heading into the 2022 season.