Conference USA released its preseason poll on Friday, which is voted by a panel of media members that cover schools in the league, and predicted UTEP as the sixth place team out of nine in the conference.

The Miners, who are picked a spot behind NM State (5th), are hoping to get back to a bowl game in 2023. The program had a breakthrough 7-6 record in 2021, but regressed to a 5-7 finish last year. Their rivals in NM State, on the other hand, are coming off a 24-19 win over Bowling Green in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26, 2022.

Athlon Sports also picked UTEP to finish No. 6 in the conference. Publications like USA Today, however, are bullish on the Miners and called UTEP the "dark horse" team to win CUSA. Phil Steele has the Miners finishing second in CUSA. Dave Campbells Texas Football predicted that the Miners will finish fourth.

Additionally, five student-athletes are honored per university for the CUSA preseason watch list, along with one academic standout. The league's watch list is voted by the nine coaches across CUSA.

Quarterback Gavin Hardison, offensive lineman Elijah Klein, linebacker Tyrice Knight, defensive end Praise Amaewhule and punter Josh Sloan were named onto the watch list by the league. Center Andrew Meyer was recognized as the top academic performer. Noticeable snubs off the list for the Miners include receiver Tyrin Smith and safety Kobe Hylton.

Here's the full list:


1.      WKU (18)
2.     Liberty (4)
3.     Middle Tennessee
4.     Louisiana Tech
5.     New Mexico State
6.     UTEP
7.     Jacksonville State
8.     FIU
Sam Houston


QB       Gavin Hardison, RS Sr., UTEP
QB       Grayson James, Jr., FIU
QB       Diego Pavia, Sr., New Mexico State
QB       Austin Reed, RS Sr., WKU
RB       Anwar Lewis, RS Jr., Jacksonville State
RB       Frank Peasant, Jr., Middle Tennessee
WR      Ife Adeyi, Sr., Sam Houston
WR      Malachi Corley, Jr., WKU
WR      Noah Frith, Sr., Liberty
WR      Smoke Harris, RS Sr., Louisiana Tech
TE        Sean Brown, RS Jr., Jacksonville State
OL        Carson Bruno, RS So., Louisiana Tech
OL        X’Zauvea Gadlin, Sr., Liberty
OL        Ethan Hagler, Sr., Sam Houston
OL        Elijah Klein, RS Sr., UTEP
OL        Quantavious Leslie, Jr., WKU
OL        Jacob Peace, Sr., FIU
OL        Shiyazh Pete, RS So., New Mexico State
OL        Keylan Rutledge, So., Middle Tennessee

DE        Praise Amaewhule, RS Sr., UTEP
DE        J-Rock Swain, Jr., Jacksonville State
DL        Kendy Charles, Sr., Liberty
DL        Marley Cook, RS Jr., Middle Tennessee
DL        Jordan Guerad, RS So., FIU
DL        Deshon Hall, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DL        Chris Hardie, RS Jr., Jacksonville State
DL        Markel Perry, Gr., Sam Houston
DL        Dion Wilson Jr., Jr., New Mexico State
LB        JaQues Evans, Jr., WKU
LB        Kavian Gaither, Jr., Sam Houston
LB        Tyrice Knight, RS Sr., UTEP
LB        Donovan Manuel, Sr., FIU
DB       Quinton Reese, Sr., Liberty
DB       Willie Roberts, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DB       Teldrick Ross, RS Sr., Middle Tennessee
DB       Andre Seldon, RS So., New Mexico State

K          Nick Brown, So., Liberty
K          Alen Karajic, Jr., Jacksonville State
K          Zeke Rankin, Jr., Middle Tennessee
K/P      Jadon Cardell, RS So., Sam Houston
P          Tom Ellard, RS So., WKU
P          Daton Montiel, RS Jr., FIU
P          Joshua Sloan, Jr., UTEP
PR/KR Smoke Harris, RS Sr., Louisiana Tech
KR       Jonathan Brady, So., New Mexico State

OL        Jacob Peace, Sr., FIU
DL        Jackson Luttrell, Sr., Jacksonville State
QB       Trey Lowe, Sr., Liberty
OL        Abraham Delfin, Gr., Louisiana Tech
LB        Devyn Curtis, RS So., Middle Tennessee
OL        Canaan Yarro, RS Jr., New Mexico State
LB        Trevor Williams, Gr., Sam Houston
OL        Andrew Meyer, RS Sr., UTEP
OL        Vincent Murphy, RS Jr., WKU

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