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January 11, 2013EL PASO, Texas - UTEP's Sean Kugler announced on Friday that he has retained Gabe Franklin, Brian Natkin and Robert Rodriguez from the previous football coaching staff.
Franklin will coach the defensive backs, Natkin will serve as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, and Rodriguez will coach the linebackers.
Natkin (1997-2000) and Rodriguez (2000-04) are both former Miners.
Franklin will begin his third season at UTEP in 2013 after coaching the cornerbacks the last two years. He also coached at Bishop O'Dowd High School (2007), California (2008-09) and San Diego (2010) following a three-year stint in the NFL.
"Gabe is an outstanding young coach and recruiter," Kugler said. "He is very intelligent and a very good teacher. He fits in that mold with Natkin, Rodriguez and [defensive line coach Andrew] Browning, bringing us good youth and energy. He has done an outstanding job this year recruiting guys and hanging on to the commitments that we have. I'm excited about working with him."
A GA with the Miners in 2004 and 2005, Natkin is entering his second season as a full-time assistant. He spent one year on the Northern Colorado staff (2006) and five years at Midwestern State (2007-11). One of two consensus All-Americans in UTEP history, Natkin led all tight ends nationally with 64 catches for 787 yards in 2000. He also spent time in the NFL with Tennessee (2001-02) and St. Louis (2003).
"Brian is one of the greatest players in UTEP history," Kugler said. "I had an opportunity to see Brian work as a player and have watched him develop as a coach. Brian has so many outstanding qualities. He has great character, work ethic and he's an outstanding person. When I first got the job, I knew Brian was going to be one of the coaches I was going to keep here on staff because I respect him so much."
Rodriguez was a defensive program coordinator in 2008 & 2009 prior to being elevated to linebackers coach for the 2010 season. He ranks fifth in school history with 443 tackles and was named the 2004 Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Rodriguez played for Carolina and Tennessee in the NFL in 2005.
"Robert, to me, is another self-made guy," Kugler said. "He's a hard worker. He's from here in town. I admired his work ethic and attitude when he was a player here. He has developed into a great coach. He has worked at it. He's a high character guy that we're excited to keep on our staff."
Kugler has also retained Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations Nate Poss, a part of the UTEP staff since 1997.