UTEP Head Football Coach Mike Price announced the Miners' 2004 football recruiting class on Wednesday.
"We often recruit on potential with the thought of moving players to other positions," Price said. "Some years we've recruited as many as eight tailbacks in a one-back offense. And within three years only one of those was still a running back and the rest were receivers, defensive backs or linebackers. A lot of times the position they play in high school isn't necessarily the position they'll play in college."
UTEP had a limited number of scholarships to give. A total of thirteen student-athletes signed with the Miners on Wednesday. "There are three or four student-athletes who we can not discuss per NCAA rules but they will be coming to UTEP, practicing with the team, redshirting next fall and will be put on scholarship eventually," Price said.
The 2004 Miner class features a pair of Parade All-Americans -- running back Tyler Ebell (Ventura, Calif.), a transfer from UCLA, and running back Marcus Thomas (Phoenix, Ariz.).
Ebell rushed for nearly 1,500 yards the last two seasons for the Bruins. He was named the National High School Athlete of the Year by one agency after rushing for 4,495 yards and 64 touchdowns as a prep senior. He will sit out the 2004 season according to NCAA transfer rules, and be eligible to play in 2005.
Thomas, who Price said would play wide receiver for the Miners, rushed for 3,573 yards and scored 47 touchdowns as a senior at Tolleson High School.
Also signing with UTEP were Andre Bailey (CB, Phoenix, Ariz.); Jayson Boyd (WR, Riverside, Calif.); Anthony Casey (OL, Compton, Calif.); James Delgardo (CB, Seattle, Wash.); Michael Eddy (OL, Layton, Utah); Kedaron Franklin (DE, Sulphur Springs, Texas); Jamar Hunt (TE, Mesa, Ariz.); Brandon Jackson (RB, Houston, Texas); Justin McNeese (RB, Houston, Texas); Ricky Porter (DB, Austin, Texas); and Tyler Ribitzki (OL, Burleson, Texas).
UTEP signed four running backs, three offensive linemen, two cornerbacks, a defensive back, a defensive end, a tight end and a wide receiver. The Miners inked seven high school standouts, five junior college transfers and a Division I transfer (Ebell). Five players hail from the state of Texas, three each from California and Arizona, and one apiece from Utah and Washington.
"Offensive line and cornerback were areas of concern for us in the recruiting process," Price said. "After that, we were just looking for athletes."
CB, 6-3, 195, Phoenix, Ariz. (McClintock)
Will have two years of eligibility at UTEP beginning in 2004...played the last two years at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz...chosen first team All-East Valley, first team All-City and first team All-Region following the 2003 season...tallied 57 stops (37 solos), 15 pass break-ups and three interceptions in 2003...posted 40 tackles and two picks in 2002...junior college coach was Dan Dunn...played primarily free safety at McClintock High School in Tempe, Ariz...also saw action at cornerback, quarterback, running back and wide receiver, as well as returned punts and kickoffs...rated the #36 safety in the nation coming out of high school by Rivals.com...member of the Tacoma News-Tribune's "Western 100" (the top 100 players on the West Coast)...recorded 88 tackles (55 solos), 30 pass break-ups, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) his senior campaign...named a PrepStar All-American and listed as the No. 10 "Athlete" on the West Coast...earned first team All-Region and first team All-Conference recognition...selected the Arizona Republic Player of the Week twice as a senior...helped McClintock High reach the state semifinals his senior year...junior honors included first team All-Conference and first team All-Region...compiled 40 tackles and six interceptions as a junior...also scored three times on offense (two receptions, one rush)...as a sophomore, was tabbed second team All-Conference and second team All-Region...high school coach was Dick Baniszewski...four-year letterwinner in basketball, as well as track and field...All-American, first team All-Region, first team All-Conference and All-East Valley choice in basketball...state champion in the 100 meters and 4x100 meter relay as a senior...also competed in the 200 meters, 4x400 meter relay and high jump...listed in Who's Who Among American High School Students...his biggest sports thrill was scoring three touchdowns (reception, punt return, interception return) against Lake Havasu his senior year...lists Tim Duncan as his favorite athlete...parents are A.V. and Gloria Bailey...has two brothers and a stepbrother...cousin, Kenny Wheaton, played football at Oregon and later was with the Dallas Cowboys...full name is Andre Vermond Bailey...nickname in high school was "The Reaper"...born 3/16/83 (Phoenix, Ariz.).
WR, 6-4, 200, Riverside, Calif. (John W. North)
Will have two years of eligibility with the Miners beginning in 2004...runs the 40 in 4.39 seconds...played one season (2002) at Oregon State...registered 10 catches for 169 yards, including a touchdown versus Eastern Kentucky, as a redshirt freshman at OSU...also had three rushes for 23 yards while appearing in 10 games...started a pair of contests (Eastern Kentucky, Arizona State)...had season-highs for catches (three) against Temple and Arizona State, and yardage (77) versus Eastern Kentucky...longest catch of the year went for 41 yards against Eastern Kentucky...ran for 18 yards on a reverse versus California...saw action at wide receiver and cornerback at John W. North High School in Riverside, Calif...was tabbed a first team prep All-American by SuperPrep Magazine, and was rated the 19th-best high school wideout in the country by that publication...ranked 76th among all prep receivers by Rivals.com...listed as the 21st-best player in California by SuperPrep...named to PrepStar Magazine's All-Western Region team...chosen first team All-CIF (5A), first team All-League and first team All-County as a junior and senior...reeled in 56 passes for 961 yards (17.1 avg.) with eight touchdowns as a senior...also scored three touchdowns off punt returns...totaled 39 catches for 481 yards (12.3 avg.) with three scores his junior year, when he was appointed honorable mention All-State...three-year starter on the varsity team...also lettered three times in track and field, competing in the high jump, 200 meters and 400 meters...top times were 22.5 seconds in the 200 and 50.0 seconds in the 400...selected All-County and All-CIF in track and field...high school coach was Mark Paredes...lists his biggest sports thrill as being chosen the player of the game in a three-overtime victory over Riverside Poly his junior season...Randy Moss is his favorite athlete...parents are Jeff and Saundra Boyd...father played at Colorado and is in the CFL Hall of Fame following a stint with Winnipeg...has one brother and two sisters...full name is Jayson William Boyd...born 9/29/83 (Riverside, Calif.).
OL, 6-4, 295, Compton, Calif. (Long Beach Wilson)
Will have two years of eligibility at UTEP starting in 2004...All-Conference offensive lineman as a freshman at Compton Community College...preseason All-American by JCFootball.com as a sophomore, as well as All-Conference at the end of the season...Compton was 6-4 in 2002 and lost in the conference championship game...junior college coach was Cornell Ward...split time in the offensive and defensive line at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif...earned All-Conference honors on both sides of the ball his senior year...was picked to the Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team on offense as a junior...three-year varsity letterwinner...member of a pair of eight-win teams that finished second in the conference at Wilson High School...high school coach was Greg Gibson...also recruited by California, Iowa, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee State, Portland State, South Florida and Utah State...two-year letterwinner in track and field as a prep, throwing the discus and shot put...league champion in the discus...he is right-handed, but can snap the ball with his left hand...his favorite sports memory was causing a fumble in the first round of the CIF playoffs his senior year which his team recovered for a touchdown, despite playing with a fractured elbow...another highlight was serving as the lead blocker his junior year when Randy Gaither broke the school record with 15 carries for 315 yards in a game...favorite athlete is Warren Sapp...hobbies include bowling, fishing and working with computers...parents are Anthony Jerome Sr. and Rochelle Casey...has one sister...cousin Robert Smith played in the National Basketball Association...full name is Anthony Jerome Casey, Jr...born 8/30/81 (Compton, Calif.).
CB, 5-11, 175, Seattle, Wash. (Rainier Beach)
Will have two years of eligibility at UTEP starting in 2004...earned second team All-America honors last season while playing at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz...also selected first team All-Conference as a cornerback and return specialist...Pima CC coach was Jeff Scurran...led the conference in punt return average (25.5) in 2003...attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. in 2002...picked up four interceptions the last two years (one in 2002, three in 2003)...saw time at cornerback and wide receiver at Rainier Beach High School, while also returning punts and kickoffs...garnered first team All-Conference accolades as a wide receiver and cornerback his senior year...was also an All-State nominee as a senior...tallied 10 interceptions as a junior and 12 as a senior...had eight touchdown receptions in his prep career...scored two touchdowns off punt returns his senior campaign...high school coach was Mark Haley...also recruited by Boise State, Nevada and Norfolk State...two-year basketball letterwinner as a prep, playing point guard...father is James Delgardo Sr...has one brother and four sisters...full name is James Delgado...born 10/21/82 (Seattle, Wash.).
RB, 5-9, 180, Ventura, Calif. (Ventura)
UCLA transfer who will be eligible to play for UTEP in 2005...posted spectacular numbers for the Bruins over the last two years with nearly 1,500 yards rushing...in 2003 rushed 116 times for 501 yards (4.3 avg.), scoring a pair of touchdowns...also had 10 catches for 68 yards (6.8 avg.)...added one punt return for 22 yards and 12 kickoff returns for 226 yards (18.8 avg.)...posted 234 carries for 994 yards (4.2 avg.) and 10 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2002, earning him second team freshman All-America honors by The Sporting News...also a second team All-Pac 10 choice...led the team in rushing yardage and scoring (10 TDs)...rated fourth in the Pac-10 in rushing (76.5 ypg), fifth in punt returns, ninth in all-purpose yards (106.3 ypg) and 13th in total offense despite not earning much playing time until the fifth game of the season...caught 12 balls for 72 yards (6.0 avg.)...had 24 punt returns for 273 yards (11.4 avg.), and two kickoff returns for 43 yards (21.5 avg.)...his 1,382 all-purpose yards marked the 10th-top total in school history...ranked seventh in the country among freshmen running backs...had six straight 100-yard games, the second-longest one-season streak in school annals...averaged 108.3 yards rushing in conference action...picked up a season-high 203 yards on 29 carries at Oregon State, including 124 yards in the fourth quarter...also had a career-long 73-yard run versus the Beavers...redshirted in 2001...Parade Magazine All-American at Ventura High School...named the National High School Athlete of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association...winner of the high school Heisman Trophy...member of the PrepStar Dream Team (No. 6 running back)...also a PrepStar All-American (No. 1 running back in the West)...chosen the California Player of the Year by USA Today...rated the No. 24 running back in the country by Rivals.com...helped Ventura to a 13-1 record and CIF-SS Division IV championship...Cal-Hi Sports California State Player of the Year...also tabbed first team All-State by Cal-Hi Sports...All-CIF Southern Section first team and Division IV Offensive Player of the Year...set national records for rushing yardage (4,495) and rushing touchdowns (64) as a senior...also set California career records with 7,385 rushing yards and 111 rushing touchdowns, averaging 8.3 yards per carry...had 276 yards rushing with three scores in the CIF championship game against Arroyo Grande...had 10 games with at least 300 yards rushing in 2000...scored six touchdowns in a game on five occasions...rushed for 1,633 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior...sophomore figures were 1,291 yards rushing and 17 TDs...three-year varsity letterwinner...high school coach was Phil McCune...also ran track and was an All-League basketball player as a prep...lists winning the CIF championship as his biggest thrill in athletics...parents are Dennis Ebell and Karin Hewlett...has one brother and three sisters...full name is Tyler Jay Ebell...born 6/4/83 (Ventura, Calif.).
OL, 6-6, 310, Layton, Utah (Northridge)
Transferred to UTEP from Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif...will have two years of eligibility with the Miners beginning in 2004...originally was a walk-on at the University of Utah in 2002...left the program along with his position coach, Alex Gerke, following the release of head coach Ron McBride...played right offensive tackle at Golden West College in 2003, earning first team All-Mission Conference honors...averaged five pancakes per game...junior college coach was Ray Shackleford...saw action at defensive end in high school...two-year letterwinner at Northridge High School...did not begin playing football until he was 17 years old and a junior at Northridge...high school coach was Fred Fernandez...also recruited by Idaho, Idaho State, Michigan State, New Mexico State, Portland State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Southeast Missouri and Utah...two-year letterwinner in track and field as a prep, throwing the discus and shot put...served an LDS church mission in Philadelphia from 1999-00...hobbies include snowboarding and surfing...lists his favorite sports moment as beating Cerritos College last year...Kyle Turley is his favorite athlete...parents are Walter and Shelley Eddy...has one brother and two sisters...full name is Michael Elijah Eddy...born 5/30/79 (Napa, Idaho).
DE, 6-4, 220, Sulphur Springs, Texas (Sulphur Springs)
TE, 6-7, 250, Mesa, Ariz. (Mountain View)
First team All-East Valley selection on both sides of the ball as a senior at Mountain View High School...played tight end and defensive end in high school, while also serving as a long snapper...two-year varsity letterwinner...member of a 14-0, state championship team in 2000 and a 12-2, district title squad in 2001, his senior season...high school coach was Bernie Busken...also recruited by Arizona State, Nevada and New Mexico State...earned four letters in baseball (pitcher) and one in basketball (center) as a prep...served a Mormon mission the last two years in Mexico City before resuming his football career...hobbies include riding motorcycles, wakeboarding, softball and basketball...parents are John and Diane Hunt...has two brothers and three sisters...brother Justin will be a senior tight end at UTEP in 2004, and brother Brent was an offensive lineman who lettered for the Miners from 1997-99...full name is Jamar Porter Hunt...born 12/4/82 (Mesa, Ariz.).
RB, 6-0, 215, Houston, Texas (Booker T. Washington)
Rushed 136 times for 1,126 yards (8.3 ypc) as a senior at Booker T. Washington High School...scored 14 touchdowns en route to earning All-District 17-5A honors...named a Texas Top 100 Player by Rivals.com...tabbed All-Region by CBS Sportsline.com...three-year varsity letterwinner who scored a touchdown in his only varsity game as a freshman...top game was a 15-carry, 166-yard performance versus arch-rival Yates High School as a senior...played for Team USA in the Global Junior Championships on Super Bowl weekend in Houston...rushed 50 times for 780 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior...sophomore totals were 30 carries for 540 yards with eight scores...caught five passes for 100 yards as a senior, and seven passes for 204 yards as a junior...member of two district championship squads (2001, 2003)...high school coach was Joel North...also recruited by Arizona, Oklahoma and Wisconsin...member of the student council...nominated for the Houston Independent School District (HISD) Senior Boy of the Class...lists Reggie White as his favorite athlete...parents are Otis Wilson and Cassandra Jackson...full name is Brandon Jacoby Jackson...nickname is "Tank"...born 10/5/85 (Houston, Texas).
RB, 6-2, 228, Houston, Texas (North Shore)
Earned third team All-State and first team All-District 23-5A recognition as a senior at North Shore High School...senior totals included 1,800 yards rushing on 200 carries with 30 touchdowns...long run was for 88 yards...lists his best game as a five-carry, 175-yard, three-touchdown effort against J. Frank Dobie High School...member of a 15-0, state championship team in 2003...played defensive back earlier in his high school career before switching exclusively to running back...two-year varsity letterwinner...injured his junior year (broken ankle)...North Shore high school coach was David Aymond...played his sophomore year at Dayton High School, where he was part of a 12-1 team...also lettered in track twice as a prep, posting a top time of 11.1 seconds in the 100 meters...favorite athlete is Ricky Williams...mother is Barbara McNeese...has two brothers...full name is Justin Edmond McNeese...born 12/19/84 (Houston, Texas).
DB, 5-11, 182, Austin, Texas (Reagan)
First team All-District 26-4A free safety as a senior at Reagan High School...versatile player who saw action at five positions (cornerback, linebacker, free safety, rover, tailback) during his prep career...also took a couple of snaps at quarterback...registered 95 tackles, 12 pass break-ups and an interception his senior year...also rushed 40 times for 275 yards with three touchdowns...honorable mention All-District performer as a junior when he had 70 stops, eight pass break-ups and a pick...helped Reagan High capture the district title his junior season...two-year varsity letterwinner...high school coach was Todd Patmon...ran track as a freshman, competing in the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays...favorite athlete is Michael Jordan...parents are Ricky and Tina Porter...has one brother...full name is Ricky Porter, Jr...born 8/8/86 (Austin, Texas).
OL, 6-6, 285, Burleson, Texas (Burleson)
Rated the 60th-best area player and eighth-best offensive lineman in the Metroplex by The Dallas Morning News...listed as a top 75 area recruit by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram...All-District 4-5A honoree as a junior and senior at Burleson High School...competed for the East squad in the Coca-Cola High School Football All-Star Game in Denton, Texas in January 2004...saw action at offensive tackle, defensive tackle and deep snapper...three-year varsity letterwinner...member of a 13-3 team in 2001 which lost to eventual champion Denton Ryan in the semifinals of the state playoffs...high school coach was Mel Maxfield...also recruited by Arkansas State, Colorado State, Houston, Kansas, Louisiana-Monroe and SMU...played basketball for one year at Burleson High...favorite sports moment was beating OD Wyatt in 2001, Burleson's first-ever state playoff victory...hobbies include fishing, mudding and hunting...favorite athlete is Zach Thomas...parents are Mike and Karen Ribitzki...has one brother and one sister...full name is Nicholas Tyler Ribitzki...nickname is "Big Rib"...born 10/23/85 (Fort Worth, Texas).
RB, 6-2, 185, Phoenix, Ariz. (Tolleson)
Named to Parade Magazine's 2002 All-America team...posted eye-popping numbers as a senior at Tolleson High School...rushed for 3,573 yards and 47 touchdowns, averaging 10 yards per carry...top performance was a 426-yard, seven-touchdown effort versus Moon Valley High School...also had 10 catches for 350 yards and three scores his senior year...two-time All-State choice as a junior and senior...rated the #2 player in Arizona, #11 running back in the country and a West Top 100 player by Rivals.com coming out of high school...an All-Region pick on both sides of the ball as a junior and senior while splitting time at running back and free safety...had seven interceptions in his career at Tolleson...team offensive MVP as a senior...junior statistics included 2,087 yards rushing with 27 touchdowns...also snared 25 receptions for 580 yards as a junior...helped Tolleson to an 11-win season his sophomore year and 12-win season his senior campaign...Tolleson won the conference title and reached the state semifinals his senior season...high school coach was Dan Widmaier...earned three letters in track and field and two in basketball...member of a track and field team which won state his sophomore year, and finished second his junior year...competed in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 meter relay, high jump and long jump...took first place in the 4x100 meter relay, second in the long jump, third in the 200 meters and fourth in the high jump at the state meet as a junior...also recruited by Arizona, Arizona State, California, Idaho State, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, UCLA, USC, Utah, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Washington and Washington State...his favorite moment as a prep was beating Cactus High School 40-25 in the 2002 playoffs, avenging a 17-14 loss in the regular season...favorite athlete is Michael Vick...parents are Dwight and Bernette Calvin...has one brother and one sister...full name is Marcus Bernard Thomas...born 5/28/84 (Phoenix, Ariz.).