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The Rise of Rey Flores: From walk-on to a leader at UTEP

EL PASO, Texas -- Beating Boise State Friday was big for the entire UTEP Football program but for running back and wide receiver Rey Flores, it's a night he'll never forget.

Rey is in his sixth and final season with the program and Friday marked his first touchdown - a 4th quarter 3 yard burst into the end zone.

"I'm grateful for it, I finally got that goose egg off my back," Rey said. "I didn't tell anybody but after that touchdown I got really emotional."

A lot of that emotion coming because he was thinking about his uncle and godfather Ruben Flores who passed away from Covid-19. Rey considered Ruben a father figure and one of his biggest supporters.

"I knew he was looking down on me when I scored that," Rey said.

While Ruben was looking down on Rey, his brother and teammate Lucas got to share and comfort him in the moment.

“It was just an emotional night for me so after I scored that touchdown he knew how I felt after I put my head down because a couple of tears started flowing," Rey said. "It’s a part of the game, there’s a lot of emotion in the game but it was just a special night.” 

“Even though it was him and not me, I still feel it like it was me that’s what we’ve always wanted, that’s what we’ve dreamed of together," Lucas said.

It's a dream Rey has been working at for years now - from his time at Ysleta High School, Rey had Division 2 offers but chose instead to be a walk-on at UTEP.

“Even though it wasn’t that full ride I wanted, I didn’t hesitate at all," Rey said.

That was back in 2017, before now Head Coach Dana Dimel arrived. Dimel told ABC-7 he saw a lot of potential in what Rey could do and bring to the team and quickly put him on scholarship.

“It was a decision that was easy for us to make as a staff because we knew he was a really good football player he’s also a great student and as I’ve said before he might be our best leader on our football team," Dimel said.

It's a pretty high accolade from Dimel and it's clear Rey in his last season is just getting started.

In their opening five games fo the season he's caught for 289 yards, that's more than his total yards from last season. Friday also saw him rush for a career high 41 yards and of course his first touchdown.

While Rey's story continues this season, it's one that only inspires his brother but should inspire so many other young football players in the city.

“Anything is possible, I’m a walking image of what’s possible when you put hard work and dedication into it," Rey said. "It’s the most special thing to play for this city and be a big part of this team.”

The Miners are currently 2-3 on the season after their big 27-10 win over Boise State. They travel to Charlotte on Saturday, looking to break their East Coast hoodoo which sees them sit 0-26-1.

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