SEAN KUGLER ANNOUNCES 2017 SIGNING CLASS
Feb. 1, 2017
UTEP Football Signing Day Quotes
“During the season, you get caught up in so many things that you really don’t get a chance to stop and thank some people. The recruiting process is not something that happens overnight. It is not something that is thrown together over a weekend. It is a year-long process and the coaches put so much work into it, so much travel, their families withstand that, being away from home for extended periods of time. But there are a lot of people that I want to thank starting with our secretaries, Mona, Norma and Donna. They put a lot of work in getting the travel set up, getting the itineraries set up.
“The guys that probably put in the most work are the graduate assistants. These guys are putting countless hours in, watching film, helping coaches while they’re on the road, keeping the communication lines open when everybody is on the road. Really, they do all the work on the recruiting weekends driving parents around, picking up players at the airport and their job is tireless throughout that whole process. I want to thank them.
“And most importantly, the coaches. The coaches put in long hours, but the whole process is done collectively as a group. Every one of these players that I am going to announce in a few minutes, we went through a painstaking process of number one, making sure that these are young men that have a burning desire to get a degree, that these are young men that are going to fit well into our program, we call them our kind of guys, guys that we feel will flourish here in El Paso and flourish here in this program. And then before we ever do that, we want to find out about their character. We want to make sure these young men are going to be here at UTEP and represent our program the proper way on and off the field. Until that point, we don’t even turn on the film. Once we’ve identified that, we can turn on the film and we are looking for football players that are productive. I know that everybody in this day and age gets caught up in the star system and recruiting services and recruiting rankings. We don’t put a lot of stock in that, if any.
“I always find it very interesting, I want to read a few stats here. This year in the Super Bowl that’s about to be played on Sunday between Atlanta and New England, 37 percent of the Super Bowl starters that are going to line up on that field, which is the highest level of football, weren’t even in their top 1,000 in the recruiting classes that they participated in. I am going to throw a couple of names at you. Malcolm Butler, MVP two Super Bowls ago, was not even rated, did not get a star. Alex Mack who is a Pro Bowl center for Atlanta, he was a two-star. Chris Hogan who just got MVP of the AFC Championship Game for New England, zero stars. Shea McClellin who was a first round draft pick that starts at linebacker for New England, 0 stars. Patrick Chung, first round draft pick, two stars. Stephen Gostkowski, probably the best kicker in the game right now, zero stars. Robert Alford, starting corner and Jonathan Babineaux, starting defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, two stars. It doesn’t really make sense putting stock into that.
“We’ve got to make sense out of what we see on film and we have to do a lot of projecting here. We may have to take a kid who’s undersized, like a Nick Usher four year ago who was zero stars and weighed 195 pounds. Well, Nick Usher just played the NFL PA game and had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. He is 245 pounds and the projection was right. Here is a zero star guy that now is going to get an opportunity to play in the NFL. Matt Ryan the quarterback, who is probably going to be the league MVP, when he came out he was the 34th-ranked quarterback. The top 3 were Kyle Wright, Chris Leak and Tom Grady. Not Tom Brady. Have you ever heard of those names? Probably not, because none of those guys ever completed a pass in the NFL. That was the top three quarterbacks. So when I say I don’t put a whole lot of stock in that, that’s what I’m talking about.
“Now I’m going to read you a couple of guys from our team. Aaron Jones, two stars, probably the best player that ever played at UTEP. He just got a combine invite yesterday, he’s going to get his opportunity to play in the NFL. His brother Alvin Jones, who is probably the best linebacker in Conference USA, zero stars. Darrin Laufasa, zero stars, he will get his opportunity to play in the NFL. As I mentioned, Nick Usher was a two-star athlete. Hayden Plinke who also got a combine invite and played in the NFL PA game, two stars. Will Hernandez, who will be the best guard in the country, who I have no doubt is probably the best lineman in the country, zero stars coming out. Devin Cockrell, probably one of the hardest hitting safeties in our conference, two stars. And Jerrod Brooks, who will be a future NFL offensive lineman and is in the process of doing that right now, zero stars. So when you look at that list, it’s not going to be star power. And you’re looking at it and saying this doesn’t rank really high in the recruiting services. I really don’t care. These are future UTEP Miners and they’re going to be productive on the field, they’re going to be productive in the classroom and they’re going to be productive citizens here in El Paso.
“Speaking of that, I just want to thank the ladies from the MAAC, Heather, Denise and Lucero. We just came off our best semester ever as a UTEP team. We had our highest GPA collectively as a group. We had 48 players over a 3.0 and we just came off a year with a 1,000 APR score. What that means is progress towards a degree, which means every single player in our program is on point and on progress to get their degree on time. All of these young men that I’m going to read to you, when I went in the home with the coaches, we made absolutely no promises. We didn’t promise that you’re going to wear jersey #22. We didn’t promise that you’re going to be a starter as a freshman or you’re going to go to the NFL. Those are false promises. But we did promise every single one of their parents and every single one of these players that they’re going to get their degree and as the head coach of the UTEP Miners, that’s my number one obligation.
“UTEP has changed quite a bit [over the years] and all of the thanks for that goes to Dr. Natalicio for the amazing job she has done with this university, and Bob Stull for the amazing job he has done with the facilities here. This is special place to coach, and I don’t take it for granted.
“Many of these guys, no stars, two stars, three stars. But what you’re looking at, and I don’t know who they’re going to be yet, but some of these guys are going to be future All-Conference players for UTEP, future leaders or captains that lead our team to a bowl game or a championship. Some of these young men will have opportunities to go play in the NFL. And I don’t know who they are. It’s going to be up to them and what they put into it.
“Before I talk about this next quarterback, I want to tell you why we signed two quarterbacks this year. Mack Leftwich, who was our starting quarterback in 2015, his career has ended as a quarterback. He had significant head injury, shoulder injury, sternum injury that he really couldn’t overcome. It’s unfortunate for him but just like all the young men in our program, he’s set up for success. He has got his degree, he has already been offered a coaching position and a math teacher position at Parkland High School. He is going to be starting off full-time in May. Our guys, even if football doesn’t work out for them on the field, they’re set up for life.”
Trace Mascorro “Trace Mascorro is our kind of guy, smart and tough. Very productive player, started all four years, played on both sides of the ball, productive for a defensive lineman. In the state championship game, he had five tackles, two tackles for loss of yards and a quarterback sack, so when the lights were on, this kid performed.”
“That wraps up our 2017 signing class. We’re doing something a little bit different this year. We’re going to be extremely patient. We have two scholarships available. We’re going to hold on to those scholarships until May and possibly look for a late qualifying high school player. The last one worked out pretty well for us – his name is Will Hernandez. Or a late qualifying (Junior College) linebacker. The last one worked out pretty well for us – his name is Dante Lovilette, who finished second on team in tackles. When we do sign those players, we’ll announce that to Miner faithful. But we’re very excited for the class that we have here. But more importantly, when we first took over this program, we said we were going to recruit El Paso. Currently, we’ve signed 22 players in five years to scholarships from El Paso. Currently on our team right now, we have 35 players form El Paso. That’s a third of our team. This year’s signings reflect that ration as well. That will continue. This is El Paso’s team. These kids love playing in front of the home folks. And I can’t think of anything better. Again, I always refer to the Jones’s boys coming off from making a sack or coming off from scoring a touchdown and hugging their coaches and seeing their parents in the stands. I can’t think of anything better. We’ll continue to recruit the homegrown talent. We’re ultimately looking for football players who care about getting a degree and that they are on the same mission we are on – win a bowl and a conference championship. We’re not going to stop working at it until we achieve it.”
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