MinerDigs.net will start its first in a series of position breakdowns for the UTEP football team.
The staff will breakdown each position, starting with the quarterbacks, and end with special teams. In each analysis the staff will take a look at the players who have left and returned, new players coming in the spring and the outlook of the team going into the fall. To top it all off, we'll have the position coaches give their thoughts.
Looking at last year
The quarterback position was one head coach Mike Price did not need to worry about until the opening series of the Sept. 20 game against NMSU. When starting quarterback Trevor Vittatoe injured his ankle, the Miners' coaching staff scrambled to find a replacement. Vittatoe would play injured the rest of the season, but played well, throwing 33 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.
The Miners did not lose any of their signal callers that made contributions last season, with one exception. Jeremy Springer, a quarterback who was vying for a backup spot, made a position change to linebacker.
Trevor Vittatoe returns for his junior campaign after tossing a record 33 touchdowns in 2008. In three years for the Miners, Vittatoe has come close to breaking records made by former Miner quarterback Jordan Palmer.
In two seasons, Vittatoe has thrown for 6,375 yards, 58 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Kyle Wright is the most seasoned backup the Miners have had in recent memory. The senior backup is a blessing in disguise for his ability to be brought in and not limit the coaching staff's play calling on offense.
Wright has been limited because he has a class which conflicts with spring practice drills.
Tim Curry may be the wild card of the group. The redshirt freshman may be ready to challenge Wright for the backup position. The sophomore from Elysian Fields, Texas, has gained more reps due to Wright being unable to practice with the team due to a class conflict.
James Thomas II is the dual-threat quarterback he was from last season, but watching most of practice as he recovers from a foot injury. He can be seen throwing passes to running back Donald Buckram who is also coming back from a shoulder injury.
The new guys
True freshman Andy McCloud will join the team after signing a letter of intent Feb. 4 to play for UTEP. The 6-foot 2 inch 190 pounder was ranked as the No. 49 pro-style quarterback by Rivals. McCloud chose to play with the Miners instead of Tulsa, Houston, Hawaii and TCU. He may redshirt due to the plethora of UTEP quarterbacks.
Freshman Corey Trisby, a dual threat quarterback, who mirrors Thomas II's play-making ability. Has a decent arm, but has a bit of accuracy issues he could work on. Trisby was suspended for one week by head coach Mike Price at the beginning of spring drills.
The Miners will be set at starting quarterback, but the real battle will be for Vittatoe's backup. It could be a three-man race between Curry, Thomas II and Wright. The landscape could change is Thomas II is given the opportunity to play exclusively at wide receiver.
Regardless, it should be an interesting spring for Curry, Thomas II and Wright.
"Obviously we have Kyle Wright; he's been our steady guy. He knows everything about the offense and has come around and become stronger and bigger.
Unfortunately JT (James Thomas II) got injured in winter drills so he won't be able to go. Hopefully he'll be able to go in the coming weeks.
The funny thing is you don't need to make a depth chart for quarterbacks because one guy plays. Tim (Curry) needs to develop for the future and Kyle (Wright) needs to develop himself so he can step in when needed," co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks and kickers coachAaron Price.
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Carlos M. Silva Jr. has covered the Miners professionally since 2005. Silva is the publisher and managing editor of MinerDigs.net. If you have comments, suggestions or a story idea, he can be reached at [email protected].