The 2019 UTEP football season is still more than two months away, but a story broke June 9 that has fans wondering about the Miners’ quarterback position.
Senior Kai Locksley was arrested June 8 on charges of driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana under two ounces, terroristic threat and unlawful carrying of a weapon. He was released from El Paso County jail after posting bond that same day.
“We are aware of the charges against Kai Locksley,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said in a statement. “While the severity of these charges is concerning, it would not be appropriate to determine a course of action until we have all the facts. In the meantime, he has been suspended from the UTEP football team.”
I was surprised after hearing the Locksley story because the majority of UTEP student athletes have not been in trouble with the law over the last 20 years. One exception was three years ago when running back Aaron Jones, now with the Green Bay Packers, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
He later entered a pre-trial DWI diversion program and then-UTEP head coach Sean Kugler handled the matter internally.
If you look closely at college athletics, the Miners probably have one of the best programs in the nation in relation to their athletes avoiding crimes and jail time while enrolled at the college.
When a UTEP student athlete makes headlines for the wrong reason, it is a major story in El Paso and around the country.
The hard road
Locksley has not had the easiest road to his starting quarterback job with the Miners. He originally signed to play for the Texas Longhorns, but he left the program after two years when they would not move him from receiver to quarterback.
He spent the 2017 season with Iowa Western Community College, and was named first-team All-America before signing with the Miners.
Locksley was a big addition for Dimel because his skill set matched the style of football that the Miners would incorporate.
Unfortunately, he spent part of his UTEP junior season with an ankle injury, and he never looked comfortable under center. Locksley led the team in completions and passing yards, plus he gained another 340 yards on the ground and had nine total touchdowns.
Benefit of the doubt
Locksley has four charges against him, the most alarming being terroristic threat and unlawful carrying of a weapon. It remains to be seen if the district attorney pursues further action. As of press time, Locksley has not commented on the matter and there is no attorney designated under his case.
The Miners have five quarterbacks on the roster, including seniors Locksley and Brandon Jones. It is possible that Dimel adds another signal caller to his team, to ensure that he will have experience at the position for the 2019 season and beyond.
In the meantime, it is important to give Locksley the benefit of the doubt until all information has been presented.
This is the first time he has been in any trouble with the law, and hopefully the situation is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.