As football’s Spring Drills come to an end with the playing of the Orange and Blue Spring Game, many UTEP Miners fans begin their annual summer hibernation. But, America’s favorite sport knows that there are fans that have no desire to sleep through the summer, that want more football, and the sport is trying to satisfy their cravings. That gives players a chance to continue playing the sport they love, and to keep their dream of playing in the NFL alive.
In 2009 the Arena Football League2 had a number of ex-Miners donning the helmets and pads. Ken Singleton WR/DB was with the Rio Grande Valley Dorados. Humberto Padilla OL/DL was on the Stockton Lightning’s roster. Tim McCullouch WR/DB was suiting up for the Boise Burn, and WR/DB Bryant Tisdale was playing for the Florida Firecats. Miners DB Josh Ferguson made a big splash playing in Peoria for the Pirates. After his first week of play, he was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week, and it wasn’t the last time he earned that recognition. The Criminal Justice major seemed to know quite a lot about theft, as he made a habit of stealing passes intended for opposing team’s receivers. His ability to run with the ball after his interceptions soon had him returning kicks, too.
But, as so many football leagues before it, the AFL2 and the AFL chose not to schedule a 2010 season. After reorganization, a new league, the Arena Football 1 emerged. Josh is now with the Chicago Rush, where after 4 games he leads the league in defensive statistics. He has 30 solo tackles, and seven assists. He has 2 interceptions, and has run those back for 32 yards, and has 6 passes broken up. He isn’t the only ex-Miner playing in the league. Chris Francies is playing for the Utah Blaze. The wide receiver is near the top of the league in receiving. After just three games, he has caught 20 passes for 232 yards, an 11.6 yards average, and 3 touchdowns.
Another league, the United Football League is preparing for its second season. Last year, ex-Miner Robby Felix, playing for the Las Vegas Locomotives, earned himself a UFL Championship ring. This year, ex-Miner Joe West comes back for his second season with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL. In his first season with the Sacramento team, he had 16 catches for 193 yards.
Meanwhile, four players from last year’s Miners team will be trying to make teams in the NFL. Damon Cromartie-Smith will be trying to earn a spot with the Steelers. Jeff Moturi, and Mike Aguayo will be in Green Bay trying to make the Packers team. In Chicago, Cornelius Brown will take his shot with Da Bears. I was just informed that Robby Felix has been invited to try out with the NY Giants.
So, for some Miners football players, the dream lives on, and for Miners fans there is plenty of football to see you through the summer. Here are some links to help you feed your habit, and keep up with some Miners as they keep doing what they love to do.
The Arena Football League site, which includes a link to watch the games on your computer, is already into their season;
To keep up with Thomas Howard and Johnnie Lee Higgins, here is the Raiders’ link;