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2019 Recruiting Breakdown: New Mexico

How does their JUCO heavy approach make or break this class?

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Colorado State Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the twelfth and final post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #12 team in our rankings, New Mexico.

New Mexico has always recruited the largest portion of junior college players in the entire conference under Bob Davie. However, this year it seems like they took it up a notch, as only six members of their class are high school players. While JUCOs can be great players like anyone else and often fill immediate holes in position depth, it’s no way to build a program when there is turnover every two years. Still, a new class of athletes are coming in for the Lobos, read below to see what they are getting.

The Skinny:

  • 26 players signed
  • 10 offensive, 15 defensive, 1 special teams
  • 13 players listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
  • Breakdown by state: California 7, Florida 3, Texas 3, Illinois 2, Mississippi 2, Nevada 2, Alabama 1, Colorado 1, Hawaii 1, Louisiana 1, New Mexico 1, Oklahoma 1, Utah 1
  • 113th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

JUCO QB Brandt Hughes

  • Brandt Hughes comes into a crowded quarterback room, but brings his share of talent to the table. He looked poised standing in the pocket and isn’t afraid to unleash his big arm when the matchup calls for it. Hughes smoothly runs an offense using a play-action game to freeze safeties and give him the matchups downfield he wants. He makes a quick read and puts nice tough on his deep balls. Brandt will face an uphill battle with the current QBs on the roster, but with three years to play two, he should get his starting opportunity at some point during his tenure.

RB Chad Alexander

  • Chad Alexander is a nice high school running back who could do well in the Lobos offense, which is still run-heavy even if it’s no longer strictly triple-option. He is a dynamic back, displaying a quick cut to get past a defender and a good burst through a hole at the line of scrimmage. Alexander had good balance and is able to stay up even when defenders make contact with him, which makes him difficult to tackler. He is near impossible to catch once he gets into the second level and defenders can’t catch up to him. Chad could compete for playing time right away and should be a multi-year starter for New Mexico.

WR Tye Moore

  • Tye Moore is an intriguing high school prospect in this class. He has big-play potential as he is electric with the ball in his hands. Moore is able to be a deep threat with his speed and can also make an difference in the short passing game on quick-hitters and screens. He has nice hands and seems to have a good understanding of how to adjust his routes in accordance with what the defense is doing. Tye may not play next year but it would be tempting to do so as the sooner he can develop into a top offensive weapon, the better.

JUCO WR Jordan Kress

  • Jordan Kress was a nice recruit to secure at this class. He’s a big play threat, getting behind the defense on a regular basis in his highlight film and tracks the ball well in the air. Kress is versatile, able to play in the slot or the outside and does a nice job changing speeds on his routes to trick defensive backs. He has a jack of all trades skill set; not tall or short, fast but not blazing speed, but that makes him well-rounded and he is a good route-runner and has a plan on every play. Jordan should play right away and could become one of their receiving leaders next year.

JUCO WR Emmanuel Logan-Greene

Emmanuel Logan-Greene is the third wide receiver being taken in this class. He is an exciting player who mainly lines up in the slot and uses his quickness and agility to make plays. Logan-Greene is at his best on short, quick-hitting routes in stride that allow him to make moves at full speed and get into the open field where he can out maneuver multiple defenders. Emmanuel has a better than average chance to play next season and will give the offense play-making potential.

JUCO TE Kyle Jarvis

  • Kyle Jarvis should come in and add a nice dimension to their offense. He can line up on or off the line and is great at running down the seam or over the middle of the field to make a big play. Jarvis has reliable hands and a large catch radius, making him a nice target. He is also an effective blocker, getting good leverage and isn’t afraid to be physical. Kyle should be able to play right away and inject some life into the Lobos’ offense.

OL Cade Briggs

  • Cade Briggs is a very solid high school offensive lineman coming from national powerhouse Bishop Gorman high school. He is skilled in both run-blocking and pass-protection, and his tape shows him directing other players and knowing where to go, pointing to a high football IQ. Briggs appears technically sound, getting his hands and body in good position to make a block and moving his feet well, especially when pulling on run plays. He is physical and initiates contact with defenders. Cade likely won’t see the field next season but could anchor the offensive line for years to come.

JUCO OL Justice Spates

  • Justice Spates is an athletic looking lineman entering this class. He has a lean frame but stays low to maximize his power and appears technically sound in his blocks. Spates isn’t afraid to be physical and attacks his blocks from the snap. He is able to open up big holes in the running game and is very comfortable with his footwork going backwards. Justice may need some time to adjust to the D1 level and add some weight but he has the tools to be a good tackle.

JUCO OL Rocky Aitogi

  • Rocky Aitogi is a massive lineman coming in this class. He stands at a towering 6’7 and is listed around 345 lbs. He delivers punishing blocks nearly every play, pancaking defenders with little issue. Aitogi’s strength is a big asset for him, but he also has good footwork and moves nimbly for someone of his size. Watching his tape, he stays with quicker rushers surprisingly well, which really adds to his value. It’s easy to see Rocky moving in to the starting lineup from the get go and make an instant impact.

JUCO OL Jacob Jankoviak

  • Jacob Jankoviak is another offensive lineman in this class who can play anywhere along the line. He is extremely physical and looking at his tape, he doesn’t let the man he’s blocking get away or past him. Jankoviak is also a force as a run-blocker, getting great push on the line and is used out in front as a blocker on a play to the outside. He is smart enough to play center and recognizes how to help fellow line-mates who need support in their blocks. Jacob is a very nice pickup for the Lobos and looks like he can take over one of the interior spots.

DL Omar Darame

  • Omar Darame is a very athletic player coming in as a defensive end. He is quick off the snap and fast enough to either blow by defenders or else beat them with a quick move. Darame employs a swim move perfectly when pass-rushing and is too speedy for quarterbacks to out run. He also does really well at staying home, meaning he doesn’t over-pursue when rushing and at times lets the play develop or keeps contain while others break through the line. Omar should be quite the impact player down the line but would bene fit from a redshirt year to bulk up and get used to the college game.

JUCO DL Ben Gansallo

  • Ben Gansallo is a big defensive lineman coming in with this class. He is strong and mobile, seemingly imposing his will against the o-line once the ball is snapped. Gansallo simply overpowers blockers and uses an array of moves to break past the line and provide a steady interior pass-rush. He can also eat up blocks in the run game and makes sure to get in the way of running backs when they go his way. Ben should step into a starting role as soon as next season and can be a boost to their defense.

JUCO DL Elmer Pauni

  • Elmer Pauni is another d-line recruit in this class. He can play on either the inside or outside of the line but looks like a better fit inside. Pauni is extremely aggressive off the snap and is an imposing figure that runs through blockers using his size and strength to find his way into the backfield. He plays through the whistle and doesn’t give up just because he gets double-teamed. Elmer has a knack for making a big play and should continue to do that next year for the Lobos with little problem.

JUCO DE Joey Noble

  • Joey Noble should solidify a spot on the line for New Mexico. He can play either inside or outside as a defensive lineman, but looks to be coming in as an end. Noble attacks off the snap and does whatever he can to disrupt the play, whether it’s getting a hand on the pass, getting off a block to stop the running back, or pushing through to pressure the quarterback. Joey should play right away on either first or second string and be an instant contributor.

JUCO LB Reco Hannah

  • Reco Hannah is one of the better junior college linebackers coming into the MWC this recruiting cycle. He is an extremely physical player and runs full speed on every play, with the ability to tackle on the run. Hannah excels at blizting off the line and sheds blockers with little trouble. He plays with an edge on the field and brings lots of energy to the defense. Reco should be able to plug and play with the Lobos next season and be a productive player.

JUCO LB Jacobi Hearn

  • Jacobi Hearn is coming in to shore up the linebacker depth for New Mexico. He does most of his damage at or near the line of scrimmage and getting into the backfield. Hearn is skilled at getting past blockers and hunting down running backs attempting to escape and scrambling quarterbacks using his speed. He is a sound tackler and can line up at any position as well as on the line or at a traditional linebacker spot a few yards back. Jacobi could be used on special teams as well as defense to rack up the tackles.

JUCO LB Devin Sanders

  • Devin Sanders comes in as a very athletic linebacker. He looks great as a rush-backer, lining up at the line of scrimmage in a standing-position and getting into he backfield with ease. Sanders is speedy and shifty and can turn the corner on slower offensive lineman and still find a way to get to the quarterback before he releases the ball. He wraps up nicely on his tackles and though not the biggest player, gets his whole body into his plays. Devin will certainly find a role on the defense next season.

LB Dion Hunter

  • Dion Hunter is another one of the rare high school players in this class, and this one in at linebacker. He played middle linebacker and that looks to be a good spot for him at the college level as well. Hunter diagnoses plays well and can move around the field with great game speed, going from one end of the field to another to make a tackle. He looks adept in coverage, though his strength lies in stopping the run. Dion won’t be counted on right away but he shouldn’t stay off the field for too long.

CB Marquae Kirkendoll

  • Marquae Kirkendoll is a nice corner coming in for the Lobos in this class. He seems to really enjoy playing press coverage, which allows him to be physical and make some contact with the receiver. Kirkendoll does well around the line of scrimmage, bumping the receiver and also staying close enough to step in to help in run defense. He can match receivers step for step and gets his hands on the ball making a play. As a high school player, it’s easy to see Marquae become a building block in the New Mexico secondary.

JUCO DB Eric Cuffee

  • Eric Cuffee is a former four-star recruit who is bouncing-back to the D1 level with New Mexico. Only his high school film could be found which won’t fully point to the play he is currently. Cuffee appears quite skilled as a cornerback, understanding the ins and outs of coverage and plays the ball very well on pass attempts. He plays tight coverage, moves his hips nicely in and out of his backpedal and closes on the ball well. Eric should jump into a starting role immediately and be a solid corner for the Lobos.

JUCO DB Antonio Hunt

  • Antonio Hunt is another player being brought in to give a boost to the secondary. He is a fast, physical cornerback who is capable of making a big play. Hunt does a great job keeping his eyes moving between his man and the ball and is athletic enough to find a way into the passing lane when it comes his way. He sticks close to his man and isn’t afraid to make a big hit. Antonio should be able to carve out a role for himself next year and the best part is he was only a freshman this past season, so he has more eligibility than most JUCO players.

JUCO DB Shaddrick Lowery

  • Shaddrick Lowery is a physical safety sure to make an impact next fall. To say he is a hard-hitter is a big understatement, as he delivers big blows to receivers coming up field. Lowery looks like a classic box safety when he’s stepping up to stop the run, but also moves around well enough to make a difference in zone coverage for the passing game. He attacks the midline of a player and wraps up well. Shaddrick should be able to make a big different in special teams as well as defense for the Lobos.

JUCO DB Jerrick Reed

  • Jerrick Reed is another freshman JUCO player, meaning he has three years of time on the field when he comes to New Mexico. He is a safety who can cover a lot of ground in the mid to deep parts of the defense and reads plays well to put himself in position to be around the ball. Reed consistently is in a spot to either breakup the pass or in a spot where he can make an immediate tackle on the receiver. It is hard to say if Jerrick will earn a role next season but he looks like he has a bright future for his years as a Lobo.

JUCO DB James Lewis

  • James Lewis is a versatile defender who can come in and make an impact for the Lobos’ defense. He played both linebacker and defensive back for his junior college, and while he was announced as a DB, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him as some sort of hybrid going forward. Lewis is a monster in the run game, mixing it up with all the linemen and fighting through them to plug up a hole and stop the runner in his tracks. He is a great tackler in the open field and that will assist him when he’s in coverage. James will find a way to contribute next season.

JUCO DB Letayveon Beaton

  • Letayveon Beaton is yet another defensive back, easily the biggest focus of this class after they had a porous 2018 showing. He looks like he will fit best at a safety spot, where he can not only provide coverage in the passing game, but also step up into the run game. Beaton isn’t afraid to get physical and he takes good angles to make a tackle, wrapping up the ball-carrier and rarely makes a whiff. He plays tight coverage, quick enough to stick with slot receivers and smart enough to position himself to get a step or two on players. Letayveon adds a lot of talent and versatility to the backfield for New Mexico.

LS Aiden Kneller

  • Aiden Kneller comes in as a specialist for the Lobos being a long-snapper. He snaps a nice ball, putting it right in the punter’s hands to get the punt off as quickly as possible. Kneller also snaps well for field goals, consistently getting the ball at the level of the knelling holder. Aiden snaps a tight spiraling ball, is accurate with his placement, and can consistently repeat his motion, all of which contribute to success as a long-snapper.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Cade Briggs, Brandt Hughes, Eric Coffee

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Cade Briggs, Brandt Hughes, Eric Coffee, Shaddrick Lowery, Justice Spates, Rocky Aitogi

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Chad Alexander, Tye Moore

Best unit:

Mike: Linebacker, Defensive Line

Summary:

So that’s the Lobo’s class. Though the high school players are few and far between, there is some nice talent found in those players and it’s unfortunate they couldn’t do more of that. Also, it’s evident their junior college players are coming in with skills and talent of their own, but it is curious as to why they didn’t try to get more of the top-level JUCO talent if they were going to target JUCO players. Regardless, it doesn’t matter how good the junior college players are if the team is going to turnover again in two years. It’s hard to bring stability to the program with this recruiting approach, and will be interesting to see what New Mexico can do with this latest class.

Previous: Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, Fresno State, Utah State, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, San Jose State, Hawaii, Air Force

And with that, we officially close the book on the 2019 recruiting class. Hope everyone enjoyed our month of recruiting with the 18 February articles we put out focusing solely on recruiting. Be sure to check out our Recruiting Roundup on Monday as we take a quick amd early look at some aspects of the 2020 recruiting class.