If Dana Dimel wants to accelerate his UTEP rebuild, he may very well circle this weekend as a critical juncture. The Miners welcome two JC quarterbacks Kai Locksley and Manny Harris to campus for official visits.
Locksley, son of former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley, committed to Florida State before eventually signing with Texas as a prep player out Maryland. Locksley never got on the field at quarterback, but switched to receiver and saw action in six games. He transferred from Texas midway through his redshirt freshman season, going to Iowa Western after a pit stop at Arizona Western. At Iowa Western Locksley earned the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Offensive Player of the Year award.
At 6-4, Locksley has ideal size, but he's also a very good athlete. He currently holds offers from UTEP and New Mexico State, though schools like Indiana and Kentucky are sniffing around.
Harris played at Copperas Cove before signing with UTSA. Last fall, after losing the backup job, he transferred to Cisco JC where he started early on for the Wranglers before suffering a setback due to injury. In his time starting, Harris completed 61% of his passes and threw twelve touchdowns. Harris ranked among the JC leaders in production before injury cut his season short. Harris is 6-3 and a good athlete himself.
If UTEP can land one of these young prospects, Dimel might be able to check his most significant lead off his list. Locksley is the more highly regarded and easily more explosive, but Harris might be the polished player.
Go back to 2013 when Dimel used Daniel Sams, an athletic, dual-threat option, who ran for over 800 yards as a change of pace to Jake Waters. Dimel always found a way to do damage through the quarterback run with players like Collin Klein, Jesse Ertz, and Sams. Using the signal caller in that way isn't something that Sean Kugler's offense emphasized, but expect Dimel to depart from that philosophy.
If UTEP can add an explosive playmaking threat at quarterback, the Miners should see improvement from an offense that averaged just 11 points a game in 2017.