The UTEP football team has had a relatively event-free offseason. That is, until now.
UTEP coach Mike Price announced today that senior quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, as well as senior wide receiver Pierce Hunter and senior offensive lineman Alex Solot, have been suspended for the start of spring football for unspecified violations of team rules.
“They won't be a part of the team for the next two weeks,” Price said. “They won't be in the weight room, on the sidelines or in the locker room. They will be punished accordingly through physical activity.”
This is the latest in a series of damning developments in the past 13 months that paint this team as undisciplined and unfocused on football.
There was the Valentine’s Day fight between linemen Aaron King and Austin Shaffer on campus.
There was the the June robbery that Daniel Palmer and Nickolas Sampson received probation for last month. Both are no longer part of the team.
Now comes this.
We’re not gonna know what rules these players broke, nor will we speculate. But you figure they’ve gotta be somewhat severe if they’re gonna miss more than a third of spring football.
I was a Trevor Vittatoe backer last season. I think he shouldered more blame than he deserved when you consider that several of his receivers were busier making cameos on rap songs than working on catching passes. And let’s not forget that several of the seniors on last year’s roster were part of a melee outside a Downtown El Paso club in 2007 that ended with two players receiving felony charges. One of those was part of the aforementioned receiving corps that had a case of the drops during the 2009 season. It should be stated that the felony charges were dropped.
Given all this, I thought Vittatoe would step up this season and become the leader this team needs. But it doesn’t look like he’s it. And now the Miners’ locker room stands to suffer from it. A team that doesn’t believe in each other doesn’t win.
Now, coaches and players are gonna say all the right things from here on out. But make no mistake, this team will not be successful if it doesn’t buy into discipline, work ethic and building character. It’s up to the coaches to instill this and weed out those that don’t fall in line.
Kudos go to Mike Price for indicating that he’s not gonna stand for any off-the-field problems from this year’s squad. And if you want to look for a silver lining here, it may be that we’ll get a good look at Corey Trisby under center.
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