Who are early UTEP football camp standouts? Here are four names

As the UTEP football team hits the second week of camp, coach Dana Dimel was tasked with naming some early standouts who've made quick impressions.
Four names he came up with included two newcomers, a redshirt sophomore and one of the team's star veterans.
Here's a quick look at the players he offered.
UTEP junior defensive tackle KD Johnson competes in a drill Monday at Glory Field
More:How did UTEP kicker Buzz Flabiano get his name? From Snow White
KD Johnson, defensive tackle
One of the few defensive starters UTEP has to replace is Kelton Moss, the anchor in the middle of the line. The Miners looked in the most obvious places to do this, signing another No. 7 out of Kilgore College.
Johnson is one of five Kilgore alums on the team, and while he never played with Moss, who was two years ahead of him, he's proud of the Kilgore legacy on this team.
"The Kilgore connection, it goes way back multiple years," Johnson said. "Kelton Moss, (current offensive lineman) Stephen Hubbard, all of us came from Kilgore. (Current starting defensive end) Maurice Westmoreland. We're the East Texas-West Texas connection. I love it.
"Kelton really came through, I admire the way he played. I want to keep doing the same thing, keep No. 7 alive."
He's off to a good start in that regards. Johnson is working on the second team and will be an instant rotation player.
"Everything has been very good for me," Johnson said. "I'm quick on my feet, a quick learner. I already know everything we've installed so far, I've gotten familiar with the defense."
Ezell Jolly, running back
UTEP is loaded at running back and as such Jolly, one of the few true freshmen scholarship players on the roster, is a likely bet to redshirt. But he has wowed early with his play and has the Miners excited about his future.
He admits the transition from Fort Bend Ridge Point (near Houston) to UTEP is a big one.
"It's a big difference, waking up at 6 a.m. every day, getting extra film in," Jolly said. "It's a lot. I'm adjusting to the speed, learning the plays. I have the plays down pretty much pat."
As for what he brings, "I'm a complete back," Jolly said. "I'm well balanced. I can catch, run, I can block."
More:For UTEP to make the next step, Gavin Hardison needs to make the next step
Jeremiah Ballard, wide receiver
Now in his third season at UTEP, Ballard has always stood out in fall camps and even started a game last season when he had 10 catches on the year.
Much more is expected of him this year and at the moment he has risen to a starting spot as the third wideout behind Tyrin Smith and Kelly Akharaiyi. Dimel said it's too early to call the opening day starter alongside those two but Ballard leads at the moment.
"I've improved a lot since my first two fall camps," Ballard said. "This camp is way better.
"It's coming more naturally, I don't have to think as much any more. I've worked hard over the offseason so catches are hitting my hands."
He admits there is a different feeling this year knowing he can compete for a starting job and that's inspired him.
"This whole offseason I've known it's up for grabs," Ballard said. "I try to outwork all the other receivers in the room to solidify it, take it from everybody."
Tyrin Smith, wide receiver
Having one of the best guys on the team be one of the best guys at camp is always encouraging. Smith wasn't here in the spring, but he and quarterback Gavin Hardison have chemistry that hasn't gone away. Smith is trying to become the first player in program history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is having the kind of fall that suggests he can.
"It's a great feeling, I'm glad to be back with the guys," said Smith, who spent the spring at Texas A&M. "We had a good first day, now we need to keep stacking days and keep building. Every practice is important, every guy on this team knows that.
"We only had five wins last year, we need more than that. We're going to try to win the whole thing this year and everybody knows how important each practice is."

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