EL PASO – UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel announced 15 student-athletes who signed National Letters of Intent and will don the Orange and Blue of the Miners.
Joining the program are WR Kelly Akharaiyi (Tyler JC), OL A.J. Barton(Lakeview Centennial HS), DB D’Angelo Bellamy (Modesto JC), WRMarcus Bellon (Santa Barbara CC), DB Amier Boyd-Matthews (Mountain Pointe HS), K/P Wilton “Buzz” Flabiano (Plano East HS), QB Jake McNamara (Page HS), ATH Samuel Mikaele (Bishop Garcia HS), OL Trevion Mitchell (West Mesquite HS), OL Aluma Nkele (Long Beach City College), DT Joshua Palu (Cerritos College), DB Latrez Shelton (Iowa Western CC), DL Logologo Va’a (Bishop Garcia HS), DB Robert West(Georgia Military College) and WR Emari White (Sierra College).
In all, the program has reloaded with a total of 22 signees between the early signing period and Wednesday’s signing day. Miner fans will see 11 new defensive players, 10 on offense and a special teams player. Of the 22 players, 14 are junior college transfers.
Kelly Akharaiyi (Midyear)
Tyler Junior College
PRIOR TO UTEP: Ranked first at Tyler JC in receiving yards (681) and second on the team in receptions (52) … ranked third on the team in touchdown receptions (six) … opened campaign with a season-high eight receptions for 89 yards and a score against Kilgore … hauled in a pair of scores on seven receptions for 59 yards in a 69-57 win against Navarro … matched season high with eight receptions for 101 yards at Cisco … tallied a season-most 102 yards on five catches (20.4 avg.) at NMMI … scored two touchdowns, while adding four receptions for 62 yards at Trinity Valley … reeled in a 22-yard score against Blinn … efforts helped Tyler JC to a 7-5 overall record (5-3 conference mark) … played at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas.
Freshman (Blue Shirt)
Lakeview Centennial HS
PRIOR TO UTEP: Earned All-District 9-6A first team honors on the offensive line at Lakeview Centennial High School following 2021 season … allowed only four sacks and tallied 24 pancakes … competed in track and field … named 2020 and 2021 all-conference.
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played in 10 games at Modesto JC during the 2021 season … tallied 60 tackles (43 solo), ranking second on the team … added 3.0 tackles for loss (six yards) and an interception (return of 60 yards) and two pass breakups … tallied a season-high nine tackles with a tackle for loss at Butte … registered nine more tackles – all solo – at San Mateo … intercepted a pass and was credited with five tackles against Diablo Valley … recorded five tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and a breakup at Reedley … posted eight tackles and a breakup against Sequoias … during the 2019 season, tallied 53 tackles with two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups … played at Central Catholic High School (Modesto, Calif.).
Santa Barbara CC
PRIOR TO UTEP: Helped Santa Barbara Community College forge a mark of 7-4 while starring at receiver and on special teams … finished with 10 total touchdowns on the season (four TD receptions, four punt return TDs and two kickoff return scores) … set Western State Conference all-time record for most return TD’s in a season … hauled in 47 passes for 622 receiving yards, aided by six different contests with at least 75 receiving yards … had 10 kickoff returns for a total of 320 yards (32.0 avg) while piling up 434 yards on 20 punt returns (21.7 avg.) … posted a receiving touchdown and took both a kickoff (90 yards) and punt (84 yards) to the house against Orange Coast … also galloped 73 yards for a kickoff return TD against LA Pierce … set season highs for both receptions (11) and receiving yards (138) against Antelope Valley … notched a receiving touchdown in three consecutive wins down the stretch… three of his four punt return scores occurred in the final four games of the campaign … took a punt back for a 45-yard score against Glendale, while also doing so against Antelope Valley, Santa Monica and Orange Coast.
Mountain Pointe HS
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played multiple positions during senior season at Mountain Pointe High School … played wide receiver and defensive back, while maintaining a role as the backup quarterback … caught 25 passes for 378 yards and two scores and added 230 yards rushing on 30 carries … threw for 320 yards on 21-of-36 passing and three touchdowns … recorded 57 tackles, two interceptions (77 yards), six passes defended, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles on defense … rushed for 113 yards on nine carries (12.6 avg.) against Perry HS … caught four passes for a season-high 88 yards (22.0 avg.) and a touchdown against Desert Vista … tallied 73 yards on four receptions, while racking up 145 all-purpose yards (five rush yards, 44 punt return yards, 23 interception return yards) and five tackles against Buena … credited with a season-high 10 tackles (eight solo) and recorded a forced fumble with two pass breakups against Basha.
Wilton “Buzz” Flabiano
Freshman (Blue Shirt)
Plano East, Texas
Plano East HS
PRIOR TO UTEP: Connected on 28-of-30 PATs and went 7-of-11 on field goals during senior season in 2021 at Plano East High School … totaled 49 points … booted 37 punts for 1,260 yards (34.1 avg.) … placed 11 punts inside the 20-yard line … tallied 2,045 yards on 47 kickoffs … hit 3-of-3 PATs, and a career-long 51-yard field goal against Lewisville … went 5-for-5 on PATs versus Flower Mound … went 4-of-4 on PATs and made a 43-yard field goal against Plano West … went 4-for-4 on PATs against Wylie.
Jake McNamara (Midyear)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Pro-style quarterback finished senior season completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,581 yards and 43 touchdowns to eight interceptions … added 369 yards rushing and four scores … led Page to the Class 5A Championship game where the Patriots fell short … finished 32-of-56 for 291 yards and four touchdowns with 65 yards rushing in the championship … brother Cade is the starting quarterback at Michigan, and brother Kyle is a wide receiver at UTEP.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Bishop Garcia HS
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played on offense and defense at Bishop Garcia High School … last played during the 2019 season … missed 2021 season with an injury.
West Mesquite HS
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played on the offensive and defensive lines at West Mesquite High School … named 7-5A Division I All-District second team on offense … anchored the offensive line which helped rush for an average of 4.7 yards per carry … allowed only two sacks on 235 pass attempts … averaged three knockdowns per game with a total of 34 … THSCA Academic All-State two-time captain … competed in track & field and powerlifting.
Aluma Nkele (Midyear)
Long Beach City College
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played on the offensive line at Long Beach City College during the 2021 season … rated as a 3-star athlete … Long Beach City College averaged 394.1 yards per game, including 196.7 yards per game on the ground to along with 16 rushing scores.
Joshua Palu (Midyear)
PRIOR TO UTEP: Totaled 43 tackles, half sack, 6.0 tackles for loss, an interception and pass breakup in all 11 games played as a sophomore in 2021 at Cerritos College … posted a season-high seven tackles on a pair of occasions – at East Los Angeles with 1.5 tackles for loss and a breakup and versus Palomar with a half sack … tallied five tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss, and an interception with a return of 31 yards at San Diego Mesa … played freshman season at LA Harbor College in 2019, playing in eight games and finishing with 26 tackles and a sack … played at Lakewood High School and was voted the team’s lineman of the year on both offense and defense and earned first team All-Moore League honors as a senior.
St. Louis, Mo.
Iowa Western CC
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played in 10 games during freshman season (2021) at Iowa Western CC … recorded 16 tackles with a fumble recovery, a pair of interceptions and five pass breakups … tallied four tackles with three pass breakups against Iowa Central CC … intercepted a pass at Dodge City CC … recorded second INT of season at Snow College and tallied a trio of stops … efforts helped Reivers to a 10-1 overall record including a spot in the NJCAA Division I National Championship game on Dec. 17 … played at Cardinal Ritter High School in St. Louis, Mo.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Bishop Diego High School
PRIOR TO UTEP: Named the 2021 All-Camino League Most Valuable Player as a standout on the offensive and defensive lines … named to Noozhawk All-South football team … played all four years on the varsity squad at Bishop Diego High School … tallied 56 tackles with 10.0 sacks (75 yards), three pass breakups and a fumble recovery … overall during high school career, racked up 144 tackles with 17.0 sacks, six breakups, four fumble recoveries and a pair of safeties … posted season highs in tackles (11) and sacks (3.5) against St. Bonaventure … recorded nine tackles and a sack versus Alemany.
Georgia Military College
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played in nine games at Georgia Military College during the 2021 season … tallied 11 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and seven pass breakups … recorded three tackles with a fumble recovery and a pass breakup against ASA College (Miami) … picked off a pass and added a pair of stops against Louisburg College … intercepted a pass at ASA College (Miami).
PRIOR TO UTEP: Played in 10 games during the 2021 season at Sierra College … hauled in 37 receptions for 557 yards (15.1 avg.) and six scores … tallied a season-high 90 yards on four catches (22.5 avg.), including a 51-yard touchdown reception against San Francisco … scored on a 14-yard touchdown reception, while adding 43 yards on two receptions at San Joaquin Delta … hauled in a 37-yard score, while tallying 61 yards on three catches against Diablo Valley … registered a 51-yard touchdown with 77 yards on four receptions at Butte … tallied 87 yards on four catches and reeled in a 46-yard touchdown against American River … registered a season-most six receptions for 53 yards at Santa Rosa … concluded season with a 28-yard touchdown at Laney.
EARLY SIGNEES – DEC. 15
Elk Grove, Calif.
Sacramento City College
Transfer from Sacramento City College who will have three years of eligibility … played in all 10 games as a freshman, compiling 51 tackles (45 solo, six assisted) to go along with five pass break-ups and one interception … also recorded a sack and forced a fumble … racked up a career-best 13 stops against San Francisco on Sept. 11 … had a season-best three pass break-ups against American River (Sept. 4) … posted four contests with at least six solo tackles … registered four kickoff returns for 69 yards (17.3 avg).
Transfer from Louisiana who did not play during the 2021 season … previously competed with Northeastern Oklahoma CC … appeared in six games during the 2020 campaign (played in spring 2021), making 19 tackles (15 solo, four assisted) … also had an interception and a forced fumble.
American River College
Played at American River College during the 2021 season … started in 22 career games … named the 2021 National-NorCal League MVP … only missed one snap because his helmet came off … two-time All-Big 8 Conference performer … played on an offensive line that paved the way for the Beavers to gain 169.8 rushing yards per game and 27 rushing scores … American River College averaged 31.5 points per game … graduated from Woodcreek High School in Roseville, Calif … posted seven tackles on defense as a junior in 2016.
Tyler Junior College
Played in all 12 games, helping to guide Tyler Junior College to a 7-5 mark in 2021 … racked up 90 tackles (50 solo), ranking second the defense … averaged 7.5 tackles per game … tallied 3.5 sacks (39 yards) 21.0 tackles for loss (58 yards) a forced fumble three pass breakups … posted a season-high 12 stops against Navarro … credited with 10 tackles at NMMI and 10 more with a sacks at Kilgore … posted 1.5 sacks and nine tackles at Cisco … recorded eight tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a breakup … played at Lake Dallas High School … finished senior season with 97 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss and two interceptions … first team all-district selection in District 7-5A Division II … second team selection on the Denton Record-Chronicle’s All-Area team.
Blue Springs, Mo.
Blue Springs South HS
Named first team All-Conference at Blue Springs South High School … named first team All-District, All-State Tight End and earned Team Offensive MVP … broke school record for receptions (62) in a season and posted the most yards (575) ever for a tight end in school history … added seven touchdown receptions … hauled in a pair of touchdowns on six receptions for 71 yards against Blue Springs High School … racked up 116 yards on eight catches with a score against Fort Osage … reeled in a season-high 10 receptions for 86 yards and a TD against Park Hill … recorded six receptions for 42 yards and a score against Park Hill South.
Harker Heights, Texas
Transfer from Blinn College who will have two seasons of eligibility with the Miners … dominant inside presence who had 48 tackles (seven solo, 41 assisted), 27 tackles for loss for 77 yards and 6.5 sacks for 19 yards … has had a break-up, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble … in 2020 finished with 33 tackles (16 solo, 17 assisted), including racking up 15.5 tackles for loss for 31 yards … also posted a trio of sacks for 25 yards.
Played in 10 games as a sophomore at Kilgore College in 2021 … tallied 29 tackles (19 solo) … tied for the team leads with 5.0 sacks (31 yards) … added two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery (seven yards) and four pass breakups … recorded four tackles and 1.5 sacks at Tyler … repeated those numbers at Blinn … registered a season-high five tackles with a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and fumble recovery against NE Oklahoma A&M … posted five more tackles versus Navarro) … helped Kilgore College earn a No. 2 seed in the SWJCFC playoffs.