UTEP Miners Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Cade McConnell, Maurice Westmorland

    Scotty Walden has taken over at the helm of UTEP Miners, bringing plenty of transfers to sprinkle in among the UTEP top 10 returning players.

    Changes at the top tend to have a trickle-down effect on the roster, as is the case for the UTEP Miners returning players in 2024. Former head coach Dana Dimel was dismissed following a 3-9 campaign, paving the way for Scotty Walden to take over after leading Austin Peay to a 26-14 record over the last four seasons.

    As is the status quo during a coaching change in the transfer portal age, a flood of Austin Peay transfers followed Walden to El Paso, but there are plenty of players from the Miners’ roster last year ready to make an impact with the new regime. Who are UTEP’s top 10 returning players in 2024?

    UTEP Miners Top 10 Returners in 2024

    10) Ezell Jolly, RB

    The Miners top two rushers last season, Deion Hankins (823 yards) and Torrence Burgess Jr. (620 yards), both followed RB coach Barrick Nealy to Texas State, leaving Ezell Jolly (53 yards) as the team’s leading returning rusher.

    Still a freshman after taking a redshirt last year, Jolly is a development project that will likely play behind Austin Peay transfers Jevon Jackson and Marquez Taylor.

    9) Marcus Vinson, TE

    Marcus Vinson, a 6’4″ sophomore who spent his freshman year at Kilgore College, found a place in the rotation his first year with the Miners. He played in all 12 games in 2023, catching three passes for 40 yards and a score.

    He’ll be competing with fellow returner Julian Lopez for targets but there’s a good chance Vinson emerges as the Miners’ starter in 2024.

    8) Emari White, WR

    Emari White is the team’s leading returning receiver with eight catches for 132 yards in 11 games. He also ran the ball twice for 20 yards.

    While his versatility and familiarity with QB Cade McConnell will get him snaps, he’ll have to compete with Austin Peay transfers Ashton Nickleberry, Trey Goodman, and Kenny Odom for targets.

    7) Oscar Moore, SS

    Strong safety Oscar Moore is one of a handful of returning DBs that will see the field often under new DC J.J. Clark. Moore led the Miners in interceptions last year with two, adding 24 tackles and a fumble recovery.

    Another Kilgore College transfer, Moore heads into his senior year a key starter for UTEP.

    6) Joseph Immediato, OL

    Continuity on the offensive line is key during a transitional period and Joseph Immediato brings that for Walden and the Miners in 2024. The El Paso native has made 18 starts for UTEP over the last two seasons, appearing in 11 games last year.

    The 6’4″, 338-pound junior is back to help usher in a new regime.

    5) AJ Odums, CB

    The team’s leader in pass breakups last year with eight, AJ Odums returns to El Paso as the Miners’ top corner his senior year. He added 36 tackles while routinely taking the toughest receiver assignments last year.

    A New Mexico transfer, Odums’ experience will pay dividends with a new staff.

    4) Sione Tonga’uiha, NT

    Entering his fifth season with the Miners, Sione Tonga’uiha brings a lot of size (6’0″, 295 pounds) and a lot of experience to the middle of UTEP’s defensive line. In 41 games, Tonga’uiha has racked up 29 tackles, four for a loss, while primarily acting as a space-eater.

    After being granted another season as a member of the 2020 COVID class, Tonga’uiha is back as a super senior for the Miners in 2024.

    3) Josiah Allen, NB

    UTEP’s leading returning tackler from last year with (41), Josiah Allen mans a difficult nickel position in the Miners’ defense acting as a safety/linebacker hybrid, called the Spur. Allen had five passes defended, two tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble/recovery last year.

    With 59 career tackles in 23 games for the Miners, Allen returns as one of the most experienced defenders coming back to El Paso.

    2) Maurice Westmoreland, DE

    Maurice Westmoreland enjoyed a breakout season last year coming off the edge for the Miners. He led the team in sacks with 7.5, adding 37 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, with three pass defenses, and a forced fumble.

    The 6’2″, 245-pound senior from Houston should fit in nicely with Clark’s defense.

    1) Cade McConnell, QB

    Cade McConnell went from JUCO transfer at Cerritos College to fourth-string redshirt for the Miners in 2022 and the starter last year. In seven games, McConnell threw for 1,437 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions.

    Those are not necessarily stunning numbers, so there’s a chance he will have Austin Peay transfer Skyler Locklear nipping at his heels for the starting role.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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