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Seven UTEP Miners named to All-C-USA Football Team

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Courtesy: UTEP Athletics

DALLAS, Texas - UTEP’s kicker Gavin Baechle, right tackle Jeremiah Byers and defensive end Jadrian Taylor were announced to the 2022 All-Conference USA first team, while defensive end Praise Amaewhule, running back Deion Hankins, linebacker Tyrice Knight and long snapper Angelo Tejada were named to the second team as selected by the league’s 11 head football coaches, and announced by league officials on Tuesday.

The seven combined student-athletes on the all-conference team are the most since UTEP had nine players named to the 2006 All-C-USA team (six first team, two second team, one third team).

UTEP was one of three programs (LA Tech, Middle Tennessee and UAB) to place three players on the first team.

UTSA had the most combined first and second team members with 11, followed by UAB with 10, UTEP with seven, and North Texas and WKU with six apiece.

Amaewhule, Baechle, Byers, Hankins, Knight, Taylor and Tejada are joined by All-C-USA honorable mention recipients safety Dennis Barnes, punt returner Marcus Bellon, left tackle Steven Hubbard, safety Kobe Hylton, right guard Elijah Klein, left guard Justin Mayers, center Andrew Meyer, defensive tackle Kelton Moss, punter Joshua Sloan, defensive tackle Keenan Stewart, wide receiver Tyrin Smith and linebacker Cal Wallerstedt.

Baechle concluded his career as one of the top kickers in program history.

The McKinney, Texas, product leads C-USA with 22 field goals, and ranks fourth nationally.

Baechle’s 91.7 percent (22-24) leads C-USA while rating second in FG attempts. Baechle concluded his career as UTEP’s all-time leader with 58 made field goals. While his 22 consecutive makes are also a school record.

Baechle’s 22 makes in ‘22 is a career high while it ranks second all-time for a single season in school history.

Baechle’s 97 points ranks fifth, and his 8.1 points per game checks in third in C-USA. Other Baechle’s highlights included the walk-off, game-winning field goal to beat Florida Atlantic and driving a career-long 54-yard make through the uprights at no. 9 Oklahoma on national television.

Baechle finished 31-for-31 on extra point attempts in 2022 and ended his career at 110-of-111 on PATs. Baechle’s 99.1 percent ranks no. 1 all-time in program history.

Byers started all 12 games at the right tackle position.

The product of Austin, Texas, started in 30 games, playing in 34 during his career at UTEP.

The redshirt-sophomore helped anchor an offensive line that helped the rushing offense average over 167 yards per game and place fifth in the league.

The Miners produced two running backs to rush for 700+ yards, while UTEP rushed for 14 touchdowns.

His efforts helped the offense gain over 400 yards in six games, tallying 500+ yards in two of those contests.

UTEP rushed for 252 yards at Charlotte, added 234 against FAU, amassed 335 yards versus FIU and compiled 253 at UTSA.

Taylor made national news when he scooped up a fumble and dashed 100 yards for a touchdown at Charlotte on Oct. 1.

Taylor leads C-USA with 9.5 sacks while ranking tied for ninth in FBS. Taylor concluded his career by producing 42 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss (74 yards), four pass breakups, four hurries and a forced fumble, starting in all 12 games.

Taylor totaled 3.0 sacks at Charlotte while he registered a career-high eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and recorded a pair of sacks against FAU.

The Lufkin, Texas, product tallied four tackles and a sack at no. 9 OU, and registered sacks against LA Tech, Middle Tennessee, FIU (0.5) and UTSA.

Taylor wrapped up his career ranked with 16.0 sacks and is tied for fourth in program history.

Amaewhule, a three-time member of the all-conference team, tallied 25 tackles with 2.0 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, a team-high eight QB hurries and two pass breakups.

The Katy, Texas, product currently has 17.5 career sacks, ranking second in program history.

He needs 3.0 to break the program’s all-time mark. The redshirt-junior tallied a season-high seven tackles and added a sack against MT.

He added his second sack of the season at Rice the next week.

Hankins was second on the team with a career-high 701 yards rushing.

The El Paso product averaged a career-best 5.0 yards per carry on a career-most 140 rushing attempts.

The redshirt sophomore scored three touchdowns on the ground and added 42 yards on four receptions.

Hankins rushed for a career-high 138 yards on 17 carries (8.1 avg.) against FAU, while adding a career-long 72-yard dash that sparked the UTEP offense against the Owls.

Hankins rambled over defenders for 112 yards on 20 attempts (5.6 avg.) at Charlotte.

Hankins rushed for touchdowns at New Mexico, at LA Tech and at Rice. Hankins added an 86-yard effort on 21 carries in UTEP’s upset win over Boise State.

Hankins has two years left of eligibility and has scored 18 rushing touchdowns during his career.

Hankins ranks in the top 10 in leading rushers in C-USA. Hankins came on strong in the final eight games, rushing for 622 yards (77.8 yards per game).

Knight tied for the team lead with 95 tackles while ranking tied eighth in C-USA in total tackles. Knight averaged 7.9 tackles per game, placing tied seventh in the league.

The product of Lakeland, Fla., added a 13-yard fumble return at Charlotte for his first career touchdown.

Knight also tallied 6.5 tackles for loss (23 yards), five pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a sack and his second career interception.

The redshirt-junior has produced 251 career tackles in 33 games played (7.6 per game).

Against the 49ers, Knight added seven tackles and a sack (nine-yard loss). Knight recorded four double-digit tackle contests.

His season best was 14 stops at New Mexico, while he opened the campaign with 11 tackles against North Texas.

Knight tallied 10 tackles against MT, and responded with 12 more at Rice the next week.

Knight intercepted a pass against rival NM State.

Tejada started all 12 games as the long snapper and is the first UTEP long snapper to be named all-conference since 2011 (Matt Camilli).

The San Antonio, Texas, product has played in 33 career games. Tejada registered a tackle on special teams at no. 9 Oklahoma.

The sophomore was part of a special teams’ unit that averaged over 44 yards a punt, while opponents didn’t block one punt.

The Miners were a perfect 31-of-31 on PATs and 22-of-24 on field goals.

Barnes tied for the team lead with six pass breakups in 12 games started.

The senior added 43 tackles with 3.0 tackles for loss a QB hurry and a blocked kick.

The Jefferson City, Mo., product tallied two pass breakups and four tackles during UTEP’s upset win over Boise State.

Barnes concludes his career with 124 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a sack and two interceptions.

Bellon produced multiple highlights in his first season with the Miners.

The Truckee, Calif., product, and transfer from Santa Barbara College, returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown that put UTEP up 20-10 and led to an eventual upset win over Boise State.

Bellon also tallied a 52-yard scoring reception at LA Tech. Overall, Bellon returned 17 punts for 100 yards, while adding 83 yards on five receptions.

Hylton made an immediate impact in his first season with the Miners. The Snellville, Ga., product ranked third on the team with 91 tackles in all 12 games started.

Hylton added 10.0 tackles for loss, half a sack, three pass breakups, five QB hurries, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick.

The transfer from Louisiana recorded a season-high 10 tackles twice (at UNM, at LA Tech).

Hylton tallied nine tackles and a trio of hurries at Charlotte.

Hubbard, Klein, Mayers, Meyer rounded out the remainder of the starting five of the offensive line to earn all-conference recognition.

Hubbard started the last 10 games, while Klein and Mayers started all 12 contests.

Meyer played in all 12 games, starting in 11.

Their efforts in the trenches helped the offense gain over 400 yards in six games, while tallying 500+ yards in two of those contests.

UTEP rushed for 252 yards at Charlotte, added 234 against FAU, amassed 335 yards versus FIU and tallied 253 at UTSA.

Moss, earning an honorable mention for the second straight season, started in 11 games in 2022, while starting in all 31 games played in his career.

The Jonesboro, La., product totaled 33 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss (17 yards), 1.5 sacks and four hurries.

Moss recorded a sack against FIU, while gathering a season-high four tackles at UTSA.

The senior concluded his career with 76 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Sloan ranked fourth in C-USA with a 44.4 average on 45 punts (1,998 yards).

The Melbourne, Australia, native added a career-long punt of 64 yards against rival NM State.

The sophomore made a dramatic improvement on his punting average, after a 39.1 mark in 2020 and 40.1 in 2021.

Sloan averaged 49.7 yards on six punts (season-high 298 yards) against the Aggies, while averaging 49.4 against MT.

Stewart, earning an honorable mention for the second straight season, tallied 23 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.

The redshirt-junior has produced 92 tackles with 17.5 tackles and 2.5 sacks for loss during his career.

Stewart registered a 0.5 sack against FIU, and tallied a season-high seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss against Middle Tennessee.

Smith became only the eighth Miner in program history to produce a 1,000-yard season, gaining 1,039 yards in his second season with UTEP. Smith is only one of three C-USA players to gain over 1,000 yards.

Smith added 71 receptions, becoming only the fourth Miner to tally 70+ receptions during a single season.

His 1,039 yards is ranked seventh best all-time in a single season at UTEP, while his 71 catches rate third best during a single campaign.

Smith produced four 100-yard games, that led off with a 127-yard performance in the season opener, while he compiled a career-high 183 yards on eight receptions at New Mexico.

Smith recorded a career-high 10 catches for 117 yards and a score against MT.

Smith scored touchdowns against North Texas, NM State, at Charlotte (two), Middle Tennessee, FIU, and UTSA. Smith registered 71 yards on eight receptions at no. 9 OU.

Wallerstedt, who started the season as the fourth-string linebacker, tied for the team lead with 95 tackles, while ranking second on the squad with 8.0 sacks.

The Harrisburg, N.C., product led the Miners with 14.5 tackles for loss (52 yards), while rating second in C-USA.

Wallerstedt saw his first real action at the linebacker position on the big stage at no. 9 OU.

Wallerstedt tallied 1.0 sack with five tackles. Wallerstedt led the Miners with nine tackles in a win over rival NM State, while he registered a career-high 2.0 sacks at New Mexico.

Against FAU, he recorded his first career double-digit tackle performance with 11 stops.

He amassed a career-high 14 tackles against MT to go along with 2.0 sacks. Wallerstedt added 10 tackles at Rice.

Wallerstedt totaled 51 tackles the last five games of the season (10.2 tackles per game).

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