Welcome to the tenth piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. The aim of these articles is to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured, in order of where they fall in their current MWCConnection ranking. Today looks at New Mexico.
10th in MWConnection Recruiting Rankings.
The Lobos began the season 3-3, alternating wins, and losses. They had a great showing against Incarnate Word and then predictably got destroyed by Wisconsin. New Mexico bounded back over in-state rival New Mexico State but then suffered an embarrassing loss to Liberty. The trend repeated itself with a pretty good win over UNLV and then a close loss to Colorado State. The win over the Rebels was the last one they would have all season. Losing to the Rams was the first of seven straight losses, and none of them could be considered close games. It was certainly a trying season for the team.
Offensively, they went away from the triple option scheme, mixing in some spread schemes as well. However, they still were a very run-heavy team and continued to incorporate many techniques that have its roots in the triple option.
Defensively, they run a 3-3-5, so they prefer a huge NT in the middle, a RUSH LB who spends most of the time rushing the QB (as the name suggests) and an extra DB who is a bit of a hybrid safety/linebacker who has run stopping and pass coverage responsibilities.
The Road So Far:
The Lobos secured 18 players (plus 3 known walk-ons) for this class, which is good work for the December Signing Period. Nine of those players are coming in on the offensive end, eleven are defensive players, and one is a special teams enrollee. The commits hail from 12 different states. California far and away has the most players, with 6 from that state. Only 4 other states have more than one player, and those states are Illinois, Texas, Nevada, and Mississippi. As one would expect with New Mexico, the majority of the players come from the JUCO ranks. This year, a whopping 15 players were signed out of junior colleges across the country.
Starting on the offensive side of the ball, the offensive line was a big point of emphasis in this class. Cade Briggs is one of the better recruits in this class and comes out of powerhouse Bishop Gorman. He’s joined by an influx from JUCO including Rocky Altogi, Ahina Aitogi, and Jacob Jankoviak, all of whom will provide immediate depth at the position. They also brought in a junior college player at QB in Brandt Hughes, which will ensure the position will stay well-stocked. Another intriguing high school player is running back Chad Alexander, who should slot in well into their run-heavy system. Then, another pair of JUCO players, tight end Kyle Jarvis and Hughes college teammate Jordan Kress. They’ll be joined by high school signee WR Trey Moore. They’ll all make nice additions to the passing game.
Looking over at the defense, defensive back was certainly the area of focus, with six players coming in at either cornerback or safety. Marquae Kirkendoll is the lone high school player and he is the type of rangy athlete the team is in sore need of. Joining him is Texas bounce-back Eric Cuffee, cornerback Antonio Hunt, as well as safety Shaddrick Lowery, all of whom can compete for starting roles next fall. James Lewis and Jerrick Reed complete the secondary. Linebacker also gets an immediate boost, with three linebackers coming in. Devin Sanders and Jacobi Hearn will flank Reco Hannah, who should make an immediate impact on the outside. The defensive line adds a pair of new players, one JUCO and one high school. Lando Grey can come in and provide depth right away, which will allow Omar Darame to develop and be ready to contribute for the future.
Number who signed in December: 18
Number who will enroll early: Unknown
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: DL
The Lobos have put together a pretty good class through December. Their class has some interesting talent in the high school players and a few junior college players who are talented and will bring a boost to their team next season. However, they continue to be very unbalanced in the number of junior college players they bring in and even a 50/50 split would serve them better in the long run.
Moving forward, they have two verbal commits who did not sign and they, of course, should be they should be the priority. Jeremiah Webb is yet another DB and he brings some good size as well as experience. Austin Cook is yet another OL player and he brings mammoth size at 6’5 and 315 pounds. Securing both of these players will cement the class nicely. If they have the room, signing another defensive lineman wouldn’t be a bad idea.
All in all, it’s a class filled with a mix of players and it’s pretty easy to see a handful of them playing key roles on future New Mexico teams. Unfortunately, with such an emphasis on JUCO players, there is a limited ceiling, if for no other reason than the short amount of time they will be on the team. Keep an eye of the players coming out of high school, as they project pretty well in their system.
Coming tomorrow: Wyoming