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Next Man up in El Paso

The Miners are left between a rock and a mine shaft following the arrest of starting quarterback Kai Locksley

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The UTEP football program was dealt a massive blow this week after starting quarterback Kai Locksley was suspended from the team following his arrest on several concerning charges. While Locksley remains on the team’s roster, it’s hard to imagine him coming back from such serious charges that unfairly painted UTEP in an extremely negative light. The details of Locksley’s arrest were so troublesome, even Fox News picked up the story.

A Texas transfer by way of Iowa Western Community College, Locksley accounted for nine total touchdowns in 2018. While Locksley’s stats weren’t pretty, he was absolutely a leader for a struggling offense. With Locksley seemingly heading elsewhere in the fall, we decided to take a look at what else the Miners have to offer under center heading into the 2019 season.

Senior - Brandon Jones

The lone senior quarterback on UTEP’s roster, Jones is likely the Miners’ starting quarterback when the ball leaves the tee against Houston Baptist on August 31st. Jones is a pro-style quarterback (6’2”, 210) who played in six games last year, including a start against WKU. Interestingly enough, Jones actually led the Miners in passing touchdowns (4) last season, despite Locksley starting most of UTEP’s games.

Jones needs to clean up his mechanics to improve his accuracy, but he has the arm strength and high release point to lead to some big plays through the air. A JUCO transfer from Bakersfield College, Jones completed 49% of his passes last season for a total of 673 yards. Jones rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed five interceptions.

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at North Texas
UTEP quarterback Mark Torrez completes a handoff in 2017.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Junior - Mark Torrez

A hometown product from Eastwood HS, Torrez had a disappointing 2018, appearing in just one game. Torrez’s freshman season was much more encouraging. While Torrez completed just 29% of his passing attempts that season, one would figure that the early playing time would prepare Torrez for a bright future. We’ll see if the opportunity provided to him this season leads to a resurgence for the former high school stand out.

RS Freshman - Calvin Brownholtz

While Brownholtz saw action against WKU and Southern Miss last season, the young quarterback was still able to redshirt last season thanks to new NCAA bylaws that allow players who appeared in four games or less to redshirt.

Brownholtz amassed 3,337 passing yards in his two seasons as a starter at Jesuit High School (CA), but connected on just 51% of his passing attempts. With a 58:22 touchdown to interception ratio at the high school level, expect boom or bust plays from Brownholtz.

With clean mechanics and nice zip on his passes, Brownholtz came out of high school more polished than the rest of UTEP’s quarterbacks on the roster, however he’ll need to prove that he has the accuracy to be trusted when the game is on the line. Brownholtz will have bloodlines working in his favor — his father Scott played center at Georgia, while his uncle Billy played in the NFL for nine seasons.

Freshman - TJ Goodwin

Lanky and raw, Goodwin would ideally be afforded a redshirt year and ample time in the weight room to get ready to play meaningful snaps. With UTEP’s quarterback situation looking dire, Goodwin may instead be forced into action this fall. The 6’5” freshman didn’t play in a quarterback-friendly system in high school, and his 52% completion rate in his senior season confirms that.

Goodwin simply needs time to learn and grow, as arm strength appears to be a major concern. Unless Goodwin shows up to fall camp looking like a world beater, UTEP will likely be in deep trouble if Goodwin is asked to carry a heavy load this season.