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Cleveland LB Shufelt headed south for college; West Mesa QB Brody also makes his choice

Jan. 22—Pete Shufelt once wore the UTEP colors, prominently so. His high-profile son is going to be a Miner, too.

Cleveland High School senior inside linebacker Strat Shufelt, generally regarded as New Mexico's top-ranked prep football prospect and considered one of the best at his position in this region of the country, on Monday afternoon announced he would be following his father's path and committed to play for UTEP.

"When I took my official visit there (last weekend), it was the most unreal visit I've ever had in my life," Shufelt, 18, said. "The coaches are so energetic, so into you and they make you feel like a family, and they make you feel like they've known you for years."

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Shufelt will officially sign his national letter of intent next month.

UTEP about seven weeks ago hired a new coach in Scotty Walden. The Miners were 3-9 last season.

"It instantly felt like home and it felt like someplace where I can thrive," Shufelt said of El Paso.

Shufelt had a number of prominent suitors. His list of Division I offers also included Washington State, Colorado, Air Force, Arkansas State, UConn, Harvard, Yale, Idaho State and Sam Houston State, plus both New Mexico and New Mexico State.

A few other schools were in communication with him but had not yet offered, such as Baylor and USC.

Shufelt first announced his UTEP decision on his Instagram page, later posting on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"I'M HOME!" he said on his post.

The Miners' new coaching staff had done their homework, Shufelt said, both on him and his family, which was key in his choice.

"What most recruiters wouldn't know, they knew," he said. That included his father playing at UTEP, but this was not part of his recruiting process, Shufelt said.

"One thing coach Walden said to me specifically was, 'It's great that your dad played here, but we're here for you,' and that really stuck out to me," he said.

Pete Shufelt was once a linebacker for the Miners, and later spent parts of five seasons in the NFL with the Giants and Chiefs.

Shufelt had a previous offer from UTEP, but that went away when the previous coaching staff was fired following last season. He reached out to the Miners' new defensive coordinator, J.J. Clark, but didn't think he'd hear anything back.

He did.

"After the first (football) signing day (in December), he reached out to me, asked if I had signed," Shufelt said. "I didn't. He said, 'I'm happy to hear that.' "

He said he had also spoken with UNM's new coaching staff.

"This is the most fun I've had, and also the most stressful," he said of the lengthy recruitment process. "Some down times, it would get really hard. This is definitely a relief, a burden off my shoulders."

The Miners had a couple of coaches in the metro area last Thursday to spend extensive time with Shufelt and his family. They were also watching Shufelt at Cleveland's basketball game that night. He visited El Paso on Friday and Saturday.

On the field, Shufelt was a force with the Storm from the first time he put on the Cleveland uniform. To that end, he achieved something extremely rare amongst players in the largest division, Class 6A: he was a first-team All-State selection in each of his four varsity seasons.

BRODY GOING TO PORTALES: Another of the state's top players, West Mesa quarterback Elijah Brody, made his college decision on Monday afternoon.

Brody, the Journal's overall Male Athlete of the Year for the 2022-23 school year, announced on his X account that he'd be attending Eastern New Mexico. He was recruited by the Greyhounds as an athlete.

Brody last season threw for 1,500+ yards and 17 touchdowns. He rushed for almost 1,800 yards and another 25 scores.