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Three things learned at UTEP's fall football camp

Bret Bloomquist
El Paso Times

A UTEP fall camp with uniquely high expectations essentially wrapped up with a final Thursday workout before the Saturday opener at New Mexico State.

Not surprisingly given that there was no tackling UTEP got through it mostly healthy.

Here are three takeaways.

UTEP freshman receiver Jeremiah Ballard runs a route against the defense of Deshaun Trotter Wednesday at Glory Field

Receiver depth is real

Finding pass catchers to compliment Justin Garrett and Jacob Cowing was a major priority and of everything to come out of camp, this was the biggest positive.

True freshman Jermiah Ballard was a camp sensation and that can completely transform this position given all the other receivers who had strong camps.

Veteran mainstay Walter Dawn and newcomer transfers Nick Ast and Tyrin Smith give UTEP a good top six at the position, and emerging Josh Farr, Ray Flores and Jostein Clark lend some truth to Dana Dimel's pre-camp prediction that UTEP could go 10-deep at receiver.

That number will winnow down quickly, but that's a lot of options to find two or three receivers to compliment the big two.

What this means is that starting defensive back Dennis Barnes may not play as much at receiver as was thought after his big spring game.

So is running back depth

Here the big question is how to get Deion Hankins, Ronald Awatt, Quardraiz Wadley and Willie Eldridge all involved.

Assuming Hankins receives close to 20 carries, that would mean close to 20 carries for the other three combined. This could be a case of looking for a hot hand, and it could also mean being more economical with Hankins' carries.

Linebacker is spot to watch

The only major injury in camp was the loss of highly regarded back-up linebacker Jerome Wilson, a freshman who suffered a leg injury.

Starter Tyrice Knight has to miss some days to illness concerns this week (he'll be back and at 100 percent for New Mexico State) and suddenly Connor Helsius, a junior transfer who did play a little last year was running with the starters alongside mainstay Breon Hayward. He was third team at the start of camp.

With UTEP going from a three-linebacker scheme to two, this is in some respects a new position, it suffered the only significant graduation losses and it is one that could evolve over the season.

Bret Bloomquist can be reached at 915-546-6359; bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.