NEW ORLEANS, LA. - UTEP Coach Mike Price met the press on Tuesday at Conference USA Football Media Day in New Orleans, and shed some light on the Miners' quarterback derby.
"There are still a lot of practices before the first game, so anything can change," he said. "But right now, Lorne Sam and Trevor Vittatoe did the best job in the spring and we're planning our offense around the two of them being involved at the quarterback position."
Sam played in eight games last season, missing four with a knee injury. He had only six pass attempts on the season, but rushed 16 times for 91 yards. Sam also saw time at wide receiver, making 12 catches for 172 yards.
UTEP was 4-2 with a healthy Sam last season, and 1-5 when he was either sidelined or hampered due to the injury. Price is hoping for a healthy Sam in 2007.
"Lorne will play as many plays as he possibly can either at quarterback, running back, slot back or wide receiver," he said. "I want to see him as a quarterback in the game and see what he does."
Vittatoe is a promising 6-2, 215-pound freshman from Bedford, Texas. He threw for 1,999 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions as a senior at Trinity High School.
"Trevor is going to be a really good quarterback," Price said. "He has a strong arm and he's calm. He's just young."
Price said at this point he envisions both Sam and Vittatoe getting a lot of playing time this fall.
"It's definitely going to be a combination of Lorne and Trevor with Lorne playing just about every play," he said. "His performance at quarterback will dictate how much he plays at that position. I think he's going to be a really good wide receiver while Trevor is developing. I think it's not going to be competition, but cooperation -- kind of a two-headed quarterback."
Price confirmed that sophomore Brandis Dew has been moved from quarterback to defensive end. He played both positions at Hemet [Calif.] high school.
"I think he can help at that position," Price said. "We need a defensive end. I haven't seen him hit anybody, but I think he can do it. He's going to bring 275 pounds when he hits somebody. He seems a lot happier. He played defensive end in high school, and he was recruited as a defensive end by a lot of schools."
Price also said that sophomore James Thomas II had foot surgery and will not be ready for the start of drills. True freshman Jeremy Springer is expected to grayshirt this season, but will be UTEP's fourth quarterback.
UTEP's depth at SAM linebacker has been weakened with the loss of Emeri Spence, who was dismissed from the team for violating team rules, and the suspension of sophomore Brian Wilkins.