When Dana Dimel arrived in El Paso, he looked around the big recruiting board and saw nothing. Not a single commit or early signee to speak of. After wrapping up K-State's 2017 season with a Cactus Bowl win, Dimel set about changing the nothing he saw.
Meanwhile, Kai Locksley needed a chance, a chance that Charlie Strong wasn't willing to give, a chance to play quarterback. After achieving four-star status out of high school, the 24th ranked QB prospect had his pick of suitors. He chose Texas but soon found that the offensive inconsistency of the Strong regime meant playing time would come at receiver. Locksley didn't take his lack of playing time or the position change well, and in December of 2016, he signed with Arizona Western. He never played a game at Arizona Western and moved onto Marshall, where he'd have to sit out a year, but again, never played a down for the Thundering Herd, moving on to Iowa Western. At Iowa Western Locksley returned to quarterback and returned to form, throwing for over 2,200 yards and playing a part in 40 touchdowns, 20 on the ground, 20 in the air.
The number four JUCO quarterback in the 2018 class didn't draw many offers, but he and Dimel seem drawn together.
The Miners' struggles at the quarterback position were well documented. Ryan Metz wasn't durable and threw too many balls to the opposing uniforms, Zack Greenlee couldn't connect with any uniform, let alone guys in orange and blue, and Mark Torrez looked overmatched. The results were predictable, UTEP finished dead last in CUSA in passing yards, second to last in touchdown passes, and near the top in interceptions thrown. The Miners averaged 11.8 points a game. Fire, famine, pestilence, and worse, terrible 3rd down efficiency reigned in El Paso, and everyone got fired.
So Dimel comes to town trying to do what some consider impossible, bring a consistent winner to El Paso. Who should he run into, somewhere on that giant recruiting board, Kai Locksley. Locksley's talent is undeniable, his physical tools are evident. He's a tall, fast, big-armed quarterback. Those guys don't come around often; they certainly don't come around UTEP often. Jameill Showers was one of those guys, he helped Sean Kugler get to a bowl game, but even Showers lacked the explosiveness that Locksley demonstrates. Can he put it all together and prove how wrong Charlie Strong was or how everyone one of those schools that beat a path to his door as a high school player missed this time around? Or in the words of Crash Davis, does he have a million dollar arm, but a five cent head?
Dimel needs the former, not the latter and Locksley can deliver it, we think.
In the meantime, Locksley can do something just as valuable; he can draw in talent. Remember back in high school, on a Saturday night, whenever anything was going down, the first question was "who's gonna be there?" That's recruiting in a nutshell. Are the cool kids picking your school or is it Chex Mix and Dungeons and Dragons again? Locksley is a cool kid, and his presence is already felt with Justin Garrett, a three-star JUCO receiver from Cerritos College and Tres Barboza a big framed offensive lineman from Tyler JC committing on the same weekend.
For those of you scoring, UTEP already has one more three-star commitment in its first four commitments than in its entire 2017 class. This class will be junior college and grad transfer heavy for Dimel, who claims that won't always be the case. Kansas State certainly had an excellent track record of using the JC ranks to its benefit.
Can Dimel continue to benefit from Locksley's commitment? Dimel needs all the momentum he can get, with just over two weeks to go before spring signing day, the Miners still have 80% of their class to fill. Locksley's name on the big board looks a lot better than the nothing that was there before.