Aug. 17, 2014
UTEP has unveiled its football Centennial team, featuring a total of 35 players who defined the program over a period of eight decades starting in the 1930's.
The selections were made in conjunction with a fan vote on utepathletics.com.
UTEP will honor its Centennial teams for football, men's basketball and women's basketball Nov. 14-15, when all three teams will play at home.
The quarterbacks are Pat Hegarty (1987-88), Jordan Palmer (2003-06) and Billy Stevens (1965-67). Hegarty was at the controls of the offense as the Miners posted 17 victories over two seasons, including the only 10-win campaign in school history (1988). Palmer engineered a couple of eight-win seasons in 2004 and 2005 with berths in the Houston and GMAC Bowl, respectively. Stevens also played in a pair of bowl games (1965 and 1967 Sun) and was UTEP's all-time leading passer for nearly 40 years (6,485 yards) prior to Palmer eclipsing his totals.
Heading up the ground game is all-time leading rusher John Harvey, who accumulated 3,576 yards from 1985-88. He is joined in the backfield by Ken Heineman (1937-39), Howard Jackson (2001-04) and Fred Wendt (1942-48). Heineman was the Miners' leading rusher and passer during each of the 1937, 1938 and 1939 seasons, garnering first team All-American honors twice. Jackson ran for 3,466 yards (second in school history) and is also UTEP's career leader for all-purpose yards (6,153). Wendt was the national rushing leader in 1948 (1,546 yards) and held the school's seasonal rushing standard for over 60 years.
The receiving corps is in good hands with Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr.
(2003-06), Chuck Hughes
(1964-66), Don Maynard
(1954-56) and Lee Mays
(1998-2001). Higgins is the all-time UTEP leader with 3,218 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns. Hughes set the school standard with thirteen 100-yard games over just three seasons. Maynard was an electric performer on offense and special teams for the Miners prior to enjoying a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. Mays earned the moniker "T.D. Lee" after leading all wide receivers nationally with 15 catches for scores in 2000.
UTEP is also well-stocked at the tight end position with Brian Natkin (1997-2000) and Bob Wallace (1965-67). Natkin was the national leader at his position with 64 catches for 787 yards in 2000, becoming the school's first unanimous All-American. Wallace played receiver at UTEP, but later was one of the NFL's top tight ends while a member of the Chicago Bears.
Manning the trenches are offensive linemen Trey Darilek (2000-03), Raymond Evans (1942-47), Ernest Keily (1946-49), Thurman Randle (1966-67) and James Spady (1985-88). Darilek was a four-year starter at UTEP before playing for four NFL teams. Evans and Keily were first team All-Americans in 1948 and 1949, respectively. Randle starred on the great Miner teams in the mid-`60s. Spady was a four-year starter and two-time All-Western Athletic Conference center.
Anchoring the Centennial defense are linemen George Daney (1965-67), Wayne Hansen (1947-49), Tony Tolbert (1986-88) and Brian Young (1995-99). Daney was an NFL first round draft choice by Kansas City in 1968, and was a member of the Chiefs' 1969 world championship team. Hansen played both center and nose tackle for the Miners, but later was All-Pro on the defensive side of the ball for the Chicago Bears. Tolbert tied the school record with 11 sacks in 1988, and later won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys. Young tallied 16 tackles for losses as a senior in being tabbed the WAC Defensive Player of the Year.
The linebacker contingent features Fred Carr (1965-67), Thomas Howard (2002-05), Seth Joyner (1982-85) and Barron Wortham (1990-93). Carr became the highest NFL draft pick in school history when Green Bay selected him fifth overall in 1968, and later earned a spot in the Packers' Hall of Fame. Howard played in the NFL from 2006-13 after compiling 34 tackles for losses for the Miners, third-most in school history. Joyner came to UTEP as an undersized walk-on, was credited with 325 tackles in the orange and blue and was appointed the NFL Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 1991. Wortham is the Miners' all-time leading tackler (566 stops) and made numerous All-America teams as a senior.
The secondary is comprised of Quintin Demps (2004-07), Eugene Epps (1967-68), Charlie West (1965-67) and Jesse Whittenton (1952-55). Demps is second in the Miner record book with 17 interceptions and has played for four NFL teams, including the New York Giants presently. Epps went to Washington in the second round of the 1969 NFL Draft after recording 10 tackles in a Sun Bowl win over Mississippi. West picked off 19 passes in three years to establish the school career record. Whittenton is considered to be one of the best all-around athletes in UTEP history while playing on both sides of the ball; after posting nine interceptions with the Miners, he was an All-Pro defensive back and is in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
The kicker is Chris Jacke (1984-88) and the punter is Owen Price (1938-41). Jacke fashioned a blockbuster senior year, connecting on all 48 of his extra point attempts and 25-of-27 field goals. He was a member of the 1997 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Price led the nation in punting in 1940 (48.0 avg.) and 1941 (45.3 avg.).
Rounding out the special teams unit are kickoff returner Cedric Johnson (1993-96), punt returner Hugh Harman (1954-56) and long snapper Jon Dorenbos (2000-02). Johnson is UTEP's all-time leader for kickoff return yards (2,757). Harman boasts the top punt return average in school history (17.4) and is also first in the record book with five punt returns for touchdowns. Dorenbos parlayed a three-season stint with the Miners into a longstanding NFL career. He has been with the Philadelphia Eagles since 2006.
The first Miner football team took the field in the fall of 1914, when the school was known as the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. UTEP will kick off the 2014 campaign at New Mexico on Aug. 30.
UTEP Football Centennial Team
Quintin Demps (2004-07)
Quintin Demps had a flair for the dramatic during his UTEP career. He forced a fumble in the second overtime to preserve UTEP's 35-28 win over Rice in 2004, and sealed the Miners' 44-41 triumph over Houston in 2005 - also in two overtimes - with an interception of Cougar quarterback Kevin Kolb. Demps closed out his career with 17 interceptions (second in school history) and 404 interception yards (first). Three of his interceptions went for touchdowns, including a pair of 100-yard returns as a senior. He continued his career in the NFL with Philadelphia, Houston, Kansas City and the New York Giants.
Eugene Epps (1967-68)
Eugene Epps played for the Miners for two seasons after transferring from Coffeyville Junior College. In his first year at UTEP, he helped the team to a 7-2-1 record. He posted one of the top games of his college career against Mississippi in the Sun Bowl, with his 10 unassisted tackles and fourth quarter interception spearheading the Miners' 14-7 victory. As a senior in 1968, he registered a team-leading 130 tackles, including seven for losses, with three interceptions. Epps played in the 1969 College All-Star Football Game in Chicago, and was chosen by Washington in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Charlie West (1965-67)
A gifted athlete who could have been a star anywhere on the field, Charlie West was a lockdown cornerback with the Miners from 1965-67. West, who went on to play in the NFL for 12 years, owns school records for interceptions (19) and interceptions for touchdowns (three). He also set the single-season standard with 11 picks in 1966. He was a part of three consecutive winning campaigns, and aided the squad to Sun Bowl victories in 1965 and 1967. West also returned punts, and he remains listed in the top 10 in the UTEP record book for career average, returns and yardage. He played in Super Bowl IV with the Minnesota Vikings.
Jesse Whittenton (1952-55)
Jesse Whittenton is considered to be one of the best all-around athletes to play at UTEP. He rushed for 1,351 yards, passed for 1,381 yards, caught 19 passes, intercepted nine passes, brought back 17 punts for 230 yards and returned 20 kickoffs for 375 yards. He also scored 18 touchdowns and kicked 44 PATs before taking his talents to the Green Bay Packers, where he was a two-time All-Pro defensive back and selected to the Packers Hall of Fame in 1976. In the 1955 Sun Bowl against Florida State, Whittenton passed for three touchdowns, ran for two and kicked five extra points - thus accounting for 35 of UTEP's 47 points.
George Daney (1965-67)
Although he played on the defensive line at UTEP, George Daney was moved to guard by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played for seven years before retiring due to a neck injury. He helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in 1970 and was regarded as an exceptional special teams player. Daney, who came to UTEP after Detroit Mercy dropped its football program, played in two Sun Bowl games. He and Fred Carr are UTEP's only first round draft picks.
Wayne Hansen (1947-49)
Wayne Hansen played at UTEP for three years before moving on to the NFL, first with the Bears and later the Cowboys. Hansen was the center and nose tackle for the Miners, earning All-Border Conference honors as a senior. He opened holes for stars Fred Wendt and Pug Gabrel. He helped the Miners to a 21-7-3 record over three seasons and back-to-back Sun Bowl appearances from 1949-50. He was inserted into the Chicago Bears' starting lineup as a rookie. After playing on the offensive and defensive line early in his career, he moved to linebacker in 1955 and made the Pro Bowl three times (1956-58). He was later an assistant coach at Texas Western, Oklahoma and Stanford.
Tony Tolbert (1986-88)
Tony Tolbert was somewhat of a late bloomer with the Miners - he didn't start until his junior year - but quickly made up for lost time. He earned second team All-WAC honors in 1987 and first team in 1988, when he tallied 101 tackles with 11 sacks for UTEP's first 10-win team. A fourth round draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys, Tolbert spent nine years in the NFL and tallied 59 sacks. He had more sacks than any other Cowboys player in the 1990's. Tolbert was a member of Super Bowl championship teams in 1992, 1993 and 1995. He was also a Pro Bowl selection in 1996.
Brian Young (1995-99)
An El Paso native who starred at Andress High School, Brian Young was later a fierce pass rusher for his hometown Miners. He closed out his college career with 32 tackles for losses and 14.5 sacks. In 1998, he became the first UTEP defensive lineman to post 100 tackles in 10 years. He also went over the century mark as a senior while registering 16 tackles for losses and eight sacks, garnering WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He played for St. Louis and New Orleans over nine seasons in the NFL, and was a part of the Rams' 2001 Super Bowl squad. He joined the Saints coaching staff in 2009.
Chris Jacke (1984-88)
Chris Jacke had an All-America season for UTEP in 1988 when he went 25-of-27 on field goal attempts and 48-for-48 on PATs. He set the school record with 123 kicking points that year, and the 25 field goals were also a UTEP standard. Jacke was the first kicker taken in the 1989 NFL Draft (by Green Bay) and spent 10 seasons in the league. His top year was 1993 when he scored 128 points with 31 field goals, earning placement on the All-Pro Team. In his final year with Green Bay (1996), he helped the team to a 13-3 record and world championship. He was inducted into the Packers' Hall of Fame in 2013.
Cedric Johnson (1993-96)
A dynamic special teams performer, Cedric Johnson closed out his UTEP career with 116 kickoff returns for 2,757 yards, both school records, while scoring three touchdowns. He had a 100-yard kickoff return at New Mexico in 1996. Johnson was also the Miners' top receiver as a senior with 52 receptions for 634 yards and seven scores. He later played for Saskatchewan and Portland in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League, respectively.
Fred Carr (1965-67)
Fred Carr was a three-sport standout at Phoenix Union High School, earning All-State honors as a basketball player and a national ranking as a discus thrower. But he made his name as a gridiron star. He played for the Miners for three seasons after being a part of a national championship team at Phoenix College in 1964. Carr led the Miners to a pair of Sun Bowl wins in 1965 and 1967. In 1968, he became the highest overall draft pick in school history, when the Packers selected him fifth overall in the first round. He was named All-Pro three times, and the Pro Bowl MVP in 1970. Carr was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1983.
Thomas Howard (2002-05)
Thomas Howard came to UTEP as a 190-pound walk-on defensive back and, over the next four years, built himself into a 240-pound linebacker and top NFL prospect. He was a three-year starter for the Miners, amassing 34 tackles for losses and 13 sacks. His junior year was most productive as he tallied 14 tackles for losses and eight sacks - enough for Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine to recognize him as the state's preseason Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. Howard appeared in 95 NFL games over eight seasons before his life was cut short in a car accident at the age of 30.
Seth Joyner (1982-85)
Seth Joyner also came to UTEP as an undersized walk-on, but hours in the weight room transformed him into a college standout and, ultimately, one of the NFL's top linebackers. His Miner career produced 325 tackles before he was picked by Philadelphia in the 1986 NFL Draft. Joyner played for the Eagles for eight seasons, where he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1991 Sports Illustrated NFL Player of the Year. He later played for Arizona, Green Bay and Denver, and was a part of the Broncos' Super Bowl championship run in his final year as a pro. Joyner was credited with 52 sacks and 24 interceptions in 195 NFL games.
Barron Wortham (1990-93)
Barron Wortham joined Raymond Morris as the only players to lead UTEP in tackles four times. He recorded 129 stops as a freshman, 148 as a sophomore, 138 as a junior and 151 as a senior for a total of 566 takedowns - the top total in school history. Wortham is also the Miners' all-time leader in tackles for losses (45). He was named a first team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America his senior year despite playing on a team that won only one game. Wortham was chosen by Houston in the NFL Draft. He played seven seasons in the league and started for the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Jon Dorenbos (2000-02)
Jon Dorenbos took a creative approach to earning a football scholarship at UTEP. Knowing that the Miners needed a long snapper, he sent a highlight video to the coaching staff. The only problem was that the long snapper on the video wasn't him, but Golden West Junior College teammate Tim Thurman. No matter, because Dorenbos perfected his craft and not only excelled as a long snapper at UTEP, but for many years in the NFL. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by Buffalo in 2003. He later played for Tennessee and Philadelphia, making the Pro Bowl in 2009.
Trey Darilek (2000-03)
Trey Darilek would have started every game for UTEP over four years, had he not missed a portion of the 2002 campaign with a torn MCL. He was named to College Football News' Freshman All-America team in 2000 after helping the Miners to an 8-4 mark and their first Western Athletic Conference title. He moved from right tackle to left tackle his senior year and landed first team All-Conference honors. Darilek was chosen by Philadelphia in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He played for the Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Raymond Evans (1942-47)
Raymond Evans came to the Miners as a promising young halfback in 1942, but after World War II was moved to tackle. He was one of the key reasons for the post-war success of the Miners. Evans landed first team Little All-America honors by the Associated Press in 1948, and was a two-time first team All-Border Conference pick.
Ernest Keily (1946-49)
Ernest Keily was a top-notch pulling guard and a two-time Little All-American by the Associated Press (second team 1948, first team 1949). He was also a three-time first team All-Border Conference choice (1947-49). He led the way for Fred Wendt's 1,546 rushing yards in 1948. The Miners established school records with 3,751 rushing yards and 47 rushing touchdowns that year.
Thurman Randle (1966-67)
With a 6-6, 266-pound frame, Thurman Randle was an excellent pass blocker and one of the many reasons the Miners have outstanding teams during the mid-1960's. He aided the team to a 13-6-1 mark over two years and a berth in the 1967 Sun Bowl, where Texas Western toppled Mississippi 14-7. Randle played briefly in the NFL with Atlanta.
James Spady (1985-88)
James Spady was a four-year starter and two-time first team All-WAC center, although he wasn't the biggest man on the field at any time. He carried 230 pounds on a 6-2 frame and helped the Miners win 21 games his last three years, including a 10-3 campaign in 1988. Later Spady played for Denver and Sacramento in the Arena League before launching a coaching career. He was on the UTEP staff from 1993-2003, and later Nevada (2010-13) before landing the head coaching position at Alabama A&M in 2014.
Hugh Harman (1953-56)
A part of one of the most successful periods in program history, Hugh Harman set a school record by averaging 17.39 yards on 36 punt returns from 1953-56. He averaged 24.3 yards on punt returns and scored three touchdowns his senior year, when the Miners finished 9-2 and squared off with George Washington in the Sun Bowl. His five punt returns for touchdowns remain the UTEP career standard.
Owen Price (1938-41)
A triple threat player (rushing, passing and punting), Owen Price accomplished a little bit of everything during his career with the Miners. He led the nation in punting in 1940 (48.0 avg.) and 1941 (45.3 avg.). During the same time frame Price paced the squad in all-purpose yards, rushing yards and punt returns. He was also the team's leading passer in 1941. For his efforts, Price received distinction in both 1940 and 1941 as a Little All-American. Some of his more notable accomplishments included rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns against New Mexico State in 1940 and setting the NCAA record for passing completions and attempts, hitting 29 of 55 versus Loyola-Marymount in 1941.
Pat Hegarty (1987-88)
A winner in every sense of the word, Pat Hegarty spent two seasons at the controls of the UTEP offense and the Miners went 17-6 in games that he started. Hegarty threw for over 300 yards three times as a junior, as UTEP went 7-4 for its first winning season in 17 years. The following year, he compiled a nearly 2:1 touchdown/interception ratio (17-9) and passed for 2,529 yards in leading the Miners to a 10-3 mark, the best in school history. Hegarty excelled in the classroom as well, as he was named to the GTE Academic All-America Team and honored with an NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship.
Jordan Palmer (2003-06)
Jordan Palmer entered his sophomore season (2004) locked in a three-man quarterback competition with Orlando Cruz and Omar Duarte. But coach Mike Price loved his potential, and well as his pedigree - he was the brother of former Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer - and over the next three years he threw for 9,916 yards and 81 touchdowns in leading UTEP to 21 victories. Palmer ended his career as the Miners' all-time leader for passing yards (11,084), passing efficiency (136.26), completion percentage (.596), touchdown passes (88) and 300-yard games (16) before taking his talents to the NFL.
Billy Stevens (1965-67)
For nearly 40 years, Billy Stevens held UTEP records for passing yards (6,485), passing touchdowns (51) and 300-yard games (seven) before Jordan Palmer shattered his marks. His three seasons at the helm of the Miner offense produced 21 wins and a pair of Sun Bowl victories (over TCU in 1965 and Mississippi in 1967). Stevens may be best known for throwing a 92-yard pass - the longest in school history -- to Bob Wallace with no time left, giving the Miners a thrilling 20-19 victory at Utah in 1965. The Miners entered the game on a three-game losing streak and, following the "Turning Point" victory, went 17-6-1 over the last 24 games of Stevens' career.
John Harvey (1985-88)
John Harvey racked up 3,576 rushing yards, 42 rushing touchdowns and sixteen 100-yard games - all school standards - during his four seasons with the Miners. He was UTEP's leading rusher all four years, totaling 1,921 yards in 1987 and 1988 as the Miners rolled to 17 victories. He was also an excellent pass-catching back with 99 receptions for 775 yards and nine TDs. Harvey is UTEP's all-time leading scorer with 306 points. He continued his playing career with Tampa Bay in the NFL and Winnipeg in the CFL.
Ken Heineman (1937-39)
The legend of Ken Heineman was born in 1935, when he was a junior at El Paso High School. He played in the first Sun Bowl game as a member of the El Paso All-Stars and accounted for every point, running for one touchdown, throwing for two and returning an interception for a score. Heineman finished with 247 yards of offense in a 25-21 triumph over Ranger High School. Later Heineman became UTEP's first All-American selection, winning the honor in 1937, 1938 and 1939. He was a triple threat player, leading the Miners in rushing, passing and punting all three years en route to becoming the school's first NFL Draft pick. He played for Cleveland and Brooklyn in the NFL and, in 1943, led the league in kickoff returns.
Howard Jackson (2001-04)
Slight (5-9, 160 pounds) but speedy, Howard Jackson concluded his UTEP career with 6,153 all-purpose yards (tops in school history), including 1,947 on kickoff returns (second in the record book). He rushed for 3,466 yards - second in school history - despite not seeing much playing time until very late in his freshman year. Jackson ran for 100+ yards 14 times in the orange and blue. He was UTEP's leading rusher in all 12 games his senior year, when the Miners rocketed to eight wins under new head coach Mike Price. Jackson was a two-time first team All-WAC honoree.
Fred Wendt (1942-48)
Fred Wendt remains the only player in UTEP history to rush for 300 yards in a game, burning New Mexico State for 326 steps and six touchdowns in 1948. He had a 60-yard scoring run in the 1949 Sun Bowl. For over 60 years, he held the school record for yards in a season (1,546). Upon graduation he was the NCAA record-holder for single-season rushing yards, single-season scoring (152 points), single-game rushing (326 yards) and single-game scoring (42 points versus NMSU). His single-season yardage mark stood until 1969, when O.J. Simpson of USC eclipsed his total. Wendt earned All-America honors in 1947 and 1948.
Brian Natkin (1997-00)
Brian Natkin became UTEP's second consensus All-American and first unanimous All-American in 2000. He was selected first team All-America eight times that year while leading all tight ends nationally in receptions (64) and yards (787). He converted 46 receptions (71.4 percent) for first downs as a senior. Natkin also earned honorable mention All-America honors in 1998 after notching 34 catches for 362 yards. He closed out his career with 172 receptions for 1,934 yards and 11 touchdowns. Natkin was with two NFL teams (Tennessee and St. Louis) before embarking on a coaching career that ultimately took him back to UTEP.
Bob Wallace (1965-67)
UTEP's go-to receiver from 1965 to 1967, Bob Wallace still finds his name etched in the record book in numerous receiving categories nearly 50 years after he played his final college game. He is one of just six players in school history to post 200 yards in a contest, tallying 233 versus New Mexico State in 1967. Wallace was on the receiving end of UTEP's longest pass play -- 92 yards against Utah in 1965 - giving the Miners a thrilling last-second 20-19 win over the Utes. He wrapped up his career with 2,161 yards on 123 receptions (17.8 avg.). Wallace played tight end for the Chicago Bears from 1968-72, where he accumulated 1,403 yards on 109 catches.
Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. (2003-06)
Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. capped a spectacular senior year by making two All-America teams (AFCA, Associated Press). He tallied 82 receptions for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns during his final campaign in El Paso, ranking second nationally in yards per game (109.9). Higgins was selected the 2006 Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year after establishing a league record for punt return average (23.4), and earned All-League honors as a receiver and kickoff returner as well. He is UTEP's all-time leader for receiving yards (3,218 yards) and touchdowns (32), and also compiled 1,033 and 451 yards on kickoff returns and punt returns, respectively. Higgins later played for the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.
Chuck Hughes (1964-66)
One of the most prolific receivers in NCAA history, Chuck Hughes helped UTEP to 14 wins from 1965-66, including a Sun Bowl victory in 1965. Hughes reeled in 80 catches for a school-record 1,519 yards to garner All-America status in 1965. His 17 receptions against Arizona State and 349 yards against North Texas, an NCAA record at the time, highlighted the sensational season. The campaign was capped off in stellar fashion, as Hughes snared six passes for 115 yards versus TCU in the Sun Bowl. Hughes had 162 catches for 2,882 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career, as well as 851 kickoff return yards. After leaving the Sun City, Hughes played in the NFL for five years.
Don Maynard (1954-56)
Don Maynard did it all. He could run, catch, return kicks and even kick extra points. In his three-year career at Texas Western, Maynard amassed 2,283 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 843 yards, returned kicks for another 525 yards, returned 10 interceptions for 142 yards and recorded 773 yards receiving. During his tenure with the New York Jets, Maynard established club records for touchdowns (88), receptions (627) and receiving yards (11,732). He also propelled the Jets into Super Bowl III in 1969. His no. 13 jersey was retired by the club, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Lee Mays (1998-01)
Lee Mays earned the moniker "TD Lee" after leading the nation and setting a school record with 15 touchdown receptions in 2000. He was the catalyst of the Miners' drive to their first Western Athletic Conference championship. Mays ranks first in school history in catches (200), second in receiving yards (2,908) and third in touchdowns (28). He had ten 100-yard games, including six during the magical 2000 campaign when he scored a touchdown in 10 straight outings. Mays was a three-time All-WAC honoree before appearing in 49 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2002-06. He accumulated 750 kickoff return yards in the NFL.