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UTEP, NMSU football not recruiting many Borderland high school players?
By: Bill Melugin EL PASO, Texas -- The Borderland has some powerhouse high school football programs, but one look at the rosters for the local universities suggests many of the players are being looked over.
"There's kids that get away, and that can be disappointing as well, we'd like for our local kids to get better opportunities at our local universities," said Chuck Veliz, head football coach at Montwood High School. "I can tell you right now from experience, every kid that I've ever had that has played at the division 1 level would have loved to have stayed here, had he been given the offer," Veliz said.
On their respective athletics websites, UTEP lists 97 players on the football roster, 16 are from the Borderland. NMSU has 66 players listed, with only eight from the Borderland.
"There's a kid out of Las Cruces High School that I've known since a little kid, Dante Caro, and Dante now starts as a defensive back for UNM, for the Lobos, and I think the Aggies should have got him," Veliz said. "There's some other kids, I have a right tackle that starts for Fordham University, he's an All-Patriot league captain for them, it would've been great for him to play here."
Veliz named off Las Cruces High School, Mayfield, Montwood, and El Dorado as some of the local power programs, and he said the talent level here in the Borderland has been getting stronger by the year.
Las Cruces won the New Mexico state championship against Mayfield, and Montwood beat the Permian Panthers in their own stadium in Odessa this past season. The Panthers were the team profiled in the movie "Friday Night Lights."
"I think the Borderland area, New Mexico State and UTEP in particular, is well aware now that the kids are getting better," Veliz said. "The offseason, the facilities, just everything is getting better, and our kids are stepping up, as evident with some of the people we've been able to beat within the last two years."
Veliz told KFOX14 that recently, he has seen UTEP make more of an effort to sign local players.
"I know coach Kugler at UTEP is doing a really good job of having some local kids, guys like the Jones brothers who did very well," Veliz said. "I think they really want to get the top kids that this city has to offer, and not just El Paso, but Las Cruces as well."
Veliz told KFOX14 not all of the local players are able to play at the Division 1 level, but of the ones that can, the local schools shouldn't be letting them slip through the cracks.
"In Texas, football is king," Veliz said. "There's an old saying that says there's two sports in Texas, football, and spring football, it's pretty difficult here, and I can attest to the Cruces area cause we used to play them every year."