In the football hotbed that is Texas, one part of the state has started to see an increasing number of D1 prospects not only going to D1 schools but also having sizable impacts. Former UTEP Miner and Burges Mustang Aaron Jones is the most recent example, but the Sun City is starting to become better represented in the college football world.
With spring football wrapping up across the country, most coaches have a better idea of what they have heading into the 2017 season. Here are five former high school standouts from El Paso that could have a big role for their teams next season.
(Note: These players are listed in alphabetical order.)
S Tristan Cooper, Arizona, El Paso Andress
The freshman safety made a good early first impression for head coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats and saw the the field right away for Arizona in 2016. After finishing with 35 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, the rising sophomore could be a key piece of a Wildcats secondary looking to bounce back after a tough 2016 season.
On another note, Cooper’s Wildcats will be heading to El Paso to play UTEP on September 15 so he will have an opportunity to play in front of his hometown fans one more time.
RB Josh Fields, UTEP, El Paso Americas
After a stellar senior season at Americas, Josh Fields will be staying in El Paso to continue his playing career at UTEP. With local product Aaron Jones gone to the NFL, there was some belief that Fields would share the work load in the backfield for the Miners in 2017.
That all changed Friday during UTEP’s spring game when head coach Sean Kugler announced that Quadraiz Wadley (Kennedale) was out for the year with a shoulder injury. Wadley was most likely going to be next in line to replace Jones but now, Fields could see the ball plenty his freshman season even though he won’t be on campus practicing with the Miners until the summer.
WR Tyquez Hampton, Utah, El Paso El Dorado
The former El Dorado standout enrolled early at Utah and is already turning heads in Salt Lake City.
Also, Tyquez Hampton is yuge pic.twitter.com/xuy4eN8uaN
— Jon La Follette (@BigFrench_) April 15, 2017
True Freshman WR Tyquez Hampton does not look like a true freshman. #BigBoy.
— Mike Mansell (@MMansellSports) March 9, 2017
The media in Salt Lake City have been impressed with what they’ve seen and head coach Kyle Whittingham has to be pleased as well. With the Utes losing three of their top four wide receivers a year ago due to graduation, Hampton may see plenty of opportunity to crack the lineup early in his first season.
QB Steven Montez, Colorado, El Paso Del Valle
Montez has probably had the biggest impact on this list, making three starts last year for injured quarterback Sefo Liufau and played well during his time out on the field. His first start against Oregon put his name on the map as he set a school record for most total yardage (468) in a debut as a starter.
Now projected as the starting quarterback in Boulder, the former Del Valle star will look to build off of a 2016 season that saw the Buffaloes win 10 games and a Pac-12 South Division title.
WR Rashad Still, Minnesota, El Paso Andress
Still is entering his junior year in Minnesota and he’s ready to step up and contribute even more for the Golden Gophers. He’s shown flashes of potential when he’s had chances even when there haven’t been as many in Minnesota’s run-first offense. The 6-5 receiver has 36 catches for 543 yards and three touchdowns in his career so far.
He’s already made an impression on new head coach P.J. Fleck and his staff and with Still being one of only four returning receivers who have caught a pass in their careers, expect an increase in production from the former Andress Eagle.
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