With the injury to Ryan Metz, UTEP once again turns to Fresno State transfer and former Elite 11 participant Zack Greenlee. The Cali native started three games in 2016 before Metz replaced him, before returning when Metz went down against Louisiana Tech. Now the bat signal once again beckons to Greenlee, and we have to ask, what does that mean to the Miners?
At Sean Kugler's press conference on Tuesday, he mentioned that Greenlee was the most efficient quarterback in fall camp. Still, Greenlee didn't get the job. For the record, Metz was efficient, if not dynamic running UTEP's offense. The Miners were plagued by dropped passes last week, not doing Metz any favors.
So who is Zack Greenlee?
For reference we've included his percentile radar graph that show's where he falls in line with quarterbacks who attempted 100 or more passes last season. The bigger the radar area, the better the quarterback performed in that area. Greenlee is elite at sack avoidance average to below average at everything else.
Greenlee was a three-star recruit according to both Scout and Rivals out of Stockton, California and rated the 22nd best pocket passer in the country. Two schools offered Greenlee, Fresno State, and Mississippi State. Greenlee received an invite to the prestigious and yet controversial Elite 11 Finals Camp. Prestigious because the event prides itself on hosting the best of the best prep quarterbacks from around the country, controversial because the event and the regionals that lead up to it tend to be a catalyst in creating entitled little recruit monsters whose success at the next level is very hit or miss.
Trent Dilfer loved him. "He is 10-for-10 in the pressure cooker over two regionals," said Dilfer, the head instructor for the Elite 11. "Every time we squeezed him, greatness came out." Greenlee beat out heavyweights Christian Hackenberg and Davis Webb among others to get the invite to the finals.
Still, he was not a hotly recruited prospect out of high school with just the two offers. He settled on Fresno, staying close to home. Greenlee is no stranger to coming forward in a pinch. He started two games before Fresno went in a different direction. Then he transferred to UTEP.
He won the job outright last fall, but couldn't replicate his practice performance in games. The results were not optimal. Greenlee completed just over 50% of his passes, in 1987 that may have flown, but this is 2017, and anything under 60% is inefficient. So he's got accuracy issues.
At both Fresno and UTEP, coaches have been positive about Greenlee's grasp of the offense. He's also a plus athlete, he ran an 11.02 hundred in high school but didn't demonstrate that athleticism on the field last season. The hunch is that the game is still going too fast for Greenlee. UTEP fans will remember the Southern Miss game last year when a flushed Greenlee gifted a 100-yard pick six to the Golden Eagles.
If the game does ever slow down, Greenlee could be a competent starter. Whoever starts for UTEP will share a bigger burden than anyone in recent memory, because the Miners run game is an issue until it isn't any longer and UTEP's receivers seem allergic to catching things.