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UTEP Miners’ highest NFL draft picks since 1970


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UTEP Miners’ highest NFL draft picks since 1970

While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the UTEP Miners using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Clyde Glosson (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 7, #182 overall in 1970
– Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#19. Aaron Jones (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 5, #182 overall in 2017
– Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (1 Pro Bowls)

#18. Marcus Thomas (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 5, #166 overall in 2008
– Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#17. Kevin Belcher (C)
– Draft pick: Round 6, #153 overall in 1983
– Drafted by: NY Giants
– Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Bubba Garcia (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 6, #147 overall in 1980
– Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#15. Chris Jacke (K)
– Draft pick: Round 6, #142 overall in 1989
– Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#14. Brian Young (DT)
– Draft pick: Round 5, #139 overall in 2000
– Drafted by: St. Louis Rams
– Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Paul Smith (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 5, #132 overall in 2000
– Drafted by: San Francisco 49ers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#12. Trey Darilek (G)
– Draft pick: Round 4, #131 overall in 2004
– Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#11. Del Thompson (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 5, #130 overall in 1982
– Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#10. Quintin Demps (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 4, #117 overall in 2008
– Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
– Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#9. Don Croft (DT)
– Draft pick: Round 5, #115 overall in 1972
– Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
– Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#8. Johnnie Lee Higgins (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 3, #99 overall in 2007
– Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#7. Oniel Cousins (G)
– Draft pick: Round 3, #99 overall in 2008
– Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#6. Mike Smith (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 4, #91 overall in 1985
– Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#5. Tony Tolbert (DE)
– Draft pick: Round 4, #85 overall in 1989
– Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
– Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (1 Pro Bowls)

#4. Reggie Barrett (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 3, #58 overall in 1991
– Drafted by: Detroit Lions
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#3. Gary Keithley (QB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #45 overall in 1973
– Drafted by: St. Louis Rams
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#2. Thomas Howard (LB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #38 overall in 2006
– Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
– Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#1. Will Hernandez (G)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #34 overall in 2018
– Drafted by: NY Giants
– Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)


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