Matt Camilli at the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in November 20, 2011. (Stephanie Solis/

Four 2012 Miners joined the NFL as free agents

EL PASO — After their share of blood, sweat, and heartbreak at the Sun Bowl, four former University of Texas at El Paso football players won the opportunity to reach the next level in their careers – the NFL. The 2012 UTEP graduates recently signed by NFL teams as free agents are Joseph Banyard, Matthew Camilli, Donavon Kemp and Antwon Blake. “I have sacrificed so much for this moment and it feels so unreal,” Banyard said.”I know very few get this opportunity.”

This rise to the national professional ranks of these four players marks a milestone for coach Mike Price, since it is the largest group of ex-Miners to be signed as free agents since he has been leading the team. “The coaches have molded me from a young man into a grown man and to have tough skin,” Banyard said. Banyard is coming off a great senior year as a running back with the Miners.

Matt Camilli, ranked one of the top five senior long snappers in the country by Pro Football Weekly. (Stephanie Solis/

Matt Camilli – The long snap to a pro-football career

EL PASO – The six-foot-four Miner who stood out from the sideline with his golden locks, Matt Camilli is waiting to hear from the NFL in the coming days. Long snapper Camilli had a phenomenal career playing for University of Texas at El Paso.  Starting off as a walk-on freshmen and ending his career with the Miners with a scholarship. Camilli was selected 2011 All Conference USA first Team his senior year, as well as special teams captain his senior year and ranked one of the top five senior long snappers in the country by Pro Football Weekly. He is now hoping to take his career to the next level with an NFL team. “There has only been one long snapper drafted in nine years.

Miners Coach Floyd finds his place in Haskin’s legacy

EL PASO, Texas — Moving from one place to another can be stressful, but when Tim Floyd returned to UTEP to coach Miners basketball he came back home to familiar faces and open arms.

More then 30 years ago, Floyd was given an opportunity to assist legendary Miners Head Coach Don Haskins. Now Floyd made the decision to come back to follow in Haskins footsteps as Head Coach of the Men’s Basketball team. Floyd says Haskins wasn’t just a boss to him, but more of a father figure. Losing his own dad at the age of seventeen, Floyd says he looked up to Haskins as a second dad. Living in Hattiesburg Mississippi until he turned 18, Floyd attended Louisiana Tech College and then moved to El Paso where his grandparents were born and lived all their lives.

El Paso goes orange for a day

EL PASO, Texas — A proclamation by the city of El Paso named Friday, November 12 as El Paso “Miner Orangeville” day to mark the basketball season opener against Pacific with Coach Tim Floyd. Coach Floyd was assistant to Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins from 1978-1986.  The team will wear Texas Western uniforms for the first game.  The University of Texas at El Paso was formerly Texas Western College, from 1949 to 1967. It was in 1966, under Coach Haskins, that Texas Western College fielded the first-ever all black starting team in a NCAA Championship game and then won the championship. Just as Coach Haskins broke barriers with the 1966 team, breaks through borders of all kinds with journalism.  Join us in the celebration by wearing UTEP orange on that day and in continuing to overcome barriers. Go Miners!

Buckram rushes for the Miners and El Paso aiming for the NFL

EL PASO, Texas — Donald Buckram played his career breakout season in 2009 knowing that he needed exactly that to let the NFL scouts know that he has what it takes to shine on Sundays in the big league. The senior running back from the University of Texas at El Paso compiled 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns in his junior season with the Miners. Not only did he run the ball, Buckram, broke a UTEP record that stood since 1948, held by former Texas Western (now UTEP) running back Fred Wendt. Buckram didn’t always aspire to play football. Growing up in Copperas Cove, Texas, he idolized another sport other than football.

College Hoops Stars Wonder What Their NBA Future Holds

EL PASO, Texas — New talent may have to put their pro dreams on hold a while longer if the NBA goes on strike for the 2011 season, which would be a new example of another professional sports letdown. Unless a new agreement is reached, the second NBA work stoppage in about a decade would take place in September 2011. How will the players who are still in college feel about this situation? From my personal experience as one of these college basketball players I find the NBA lockout as a true misfortune. I can’t help but question why this is happening at the time of my graduation.

UTEP’s Randy Culpepper Can Fly on the Court and in the Classroom

EL PASO, Texas — Dribble, swish, slam, fly and dunk. That describes Randy Culpepper —Conference USA’s 2010 Player of the Year. Although the junior shooting guard at the University of Texas at El Paso didn’t start out wanting to play basketball, Culpepper has turned into one of the best players ever to don a Miner uniform. That is a great accomplishment in itself since an array of great talent has played at the school, including Nate Archibald, Bobby Joe Hill and Tim Hardaway. Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., Culpepper originally started training as a gymnast long before touching a basketball.

Miner Fans — Show Pride in the Orange and Blue and Support Your Teams

EL PASO, Texas — Taking a page out of Peter Griffin’s book of “you know what grinds my gears?” is our fan base here at UTEP. Our fan base has to be one of the worst fan bases in all of sports! You ask why? Well it’s because we have a fan base that is made up of a bunch of complainers and fair weather fans. We have the only fan base that I know of, that calls into a sports show and complains about an extra surcharge on tickets.

A Miners Season to Remember

EL PASO, Tex. — As a student at UTEP for almost three years, I have never witnessed a basketball season as successful as the one this year’s UTEP team accomplished. For the first time in five years, the Miners’ regular season victories earned them an NCAA tournament bid. This season was a wild ride for the team as well as the fans. The Miners closed out the regular season with an impressive (15-2) record at home this year and an impressive (24-5) overall.

Richardson Passes on Strong Words to Kick Off Black History Month

EL PASO, Texas — The charisma and the poise of El Paso basketball legend Nolan Richardson resonated in the entire room with the first few words he spoke in a deep commanding voice. “There was times when I wished I could just take my skin and just peel it off and turn white so I could be accepted because I knew I could do the job,” Richardson said. From a very young age, life was not easy for a young African American boy growing up in a predominantly Hispanic city

The former college basketball national champion coach and El Paso’s Segundo Barrio own son returned to The Sun City to keynote Black History Month at the University of Texas at El Paso and to help promote his new biography, “40 Minutes of Hell” by Rus Bradburd. Richardson addressed Miners of the past, present and future on his heritage, where he came from and how those things led him to become the sports star and humanitarian he is today. Richardson, famous for his powerful and motivational speeches delivered a message reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr. He said King was influential in his life.