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It’s the 100th Battle of I-10. Meet the El Paso man torn between both sides.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The close proximity of NMSU and UTEP makes the Battle of I-10 one of the more unique college football rivalries. The mere lack of distance is one of the many reasons the game is so fun, but for some it also poses challenges - like who to root for!

“Every time we played UTEP I made it known I was very angry," Joe Hankins said.

The former NMSU player grew up dreaming of playing for the Miners, but after never getting a look in with the orange and blue, the Irvin grad instead suited up in the crimson and white.

Every Battle of I-10 any loyalties to his hometown team went out the window.

“It was an instant I’m going to play the school that never offered me a scholarship so let’s go," Joe said. “It was very personal, a lot more personal than other games.”

Fast forward 20 plus years and even though Joe isn’t playing in the game anymore, it’s somehow become even more personal.

His nephew is none other than UTEP’s star running back Deion Hankins.

“My goal ultimately was to be like my uncle," Deion said. "I saw the love he had for the game and how strong he was and how hard of a worker he was."

“I’ve seen that kid as a baby crawling and now to see him doing what he’s doing, I can say that I’m very happy for him.”

But that happiness for Deion certainly gets tested when the Miners and Aggies face off.

“Bloods thicker than water but on game day, there’s no talking yeah we stay away from each other," Joe said.

Come Wednesday Joe will be torn between the family he chose and the family that is blood.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP

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Rachel Phillips


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