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2020 Recruiting Breakdown: New Mexico

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A rebuilding class who found its cornerstone.

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the seventh post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #7 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 with the coaching change, everything is now completely different. They didn’t have a ton of time to put together a class, but secured some talent and did it the right way. They mined for local talent, built by recruiting in the trenches, and found a talented skill player or two to feature during the rebuild years. To learn more about the Lobos class, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 23 players signed
  • 11 offensive, 11 defensive, 1 athlete
  • 14 players listed at 3-stars by one of the major recruiting sites.
  • Breakdown by state: California 10, Texas 7, Arizona 3, New Mexico 2, Louisiana 1
  • 108th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

RB Nathaniel Jones

Nathaniel instantly becomes the prized recruit in the Gonzales era for the Lobos. He is an extremely talented back that the offense can build around for the next few seasons. Jones ability to burst through holes and his vision to bounce outside when necessary make him difficult to tackle as he piles up yards. He also appears to have good enough hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. Nathaniel could start from day one and will certainly make New Mexico a run-first offense during his tenure.

WR Elijah Queen

Elijah is a wide receiver with a lot of height. He is utilized a lot in screen and other quick passes where he can get into the open field quickly and gain a lot of extra yards thanks to his long strides. Queen is also a reliable red-zone target, where his big frame and jumping ability gives him a huge advantage over smaller corners. His speed and route-running give him big-play potential as well. Elijah could get in the rotation as early as next fall and develop into the main option at receiver.

WR Jace Taylor

Jace is another tall, strong wide receiver, an apparent trend for the Lobos. He times his jumps well on high ball, giving him even more of an advantage over defensive backs. Taylor has impressive straight line speed and that allows him to be a true deep threat in the passing game. He is also dangerous in the return game, displaying good vision on the field and is tough to bring down with his large frame. Jace will be a big matchup problem for many MWC corners.

WR Bobby Wooden

Bobby is a nice compliment to the other two receivers in this class. He is a bit smaller with more speed and shiftiness who will most likely lineup in the slot. Wooden is tough to stay with on routes given his ability to change directions quickly. He is also capable of getting carries out of the backfield and should be a very versatile offensive player. Given time, Bobby will be another potentially explosive player in this offense down the line.

TE Conner Kinslow

Conner is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body. He runs smooth routes and can change direction easily. Kinslow can be a top target on third downs with his size and also has the ability to stretch the field down the seam. He can line up all over the field and is a capable blocker as well. Conner will develop into a weapon for an offense that needs it.

TE Connor Witthoft

Connor was athletic enough to play both ways in high school but will be a tight end at New Mexico. He has a quick burst after the snap and covers ground quickly with his routes. Witthoft is a big target with a wide catch radius in the short and intermediate passing game. He can line up on the line or out wide and bounces off would-be tacklers as he is hard to bring down. Connor should be able to find a role and find snaps early in his career.

OL Gregory Brown

Gregory is a tenacious offensive lineman recruit. He explodes into his blocks and appears to love to make hits and push people around. Brown looks like a natural in pass-protection, staying in his low stance and moving backward and laterally fluidly. He knows his assignment and executes it every time. Gregory is the kind of polished high school recruit needed in this class and projects as the left tackle of the future.

OL Jer’Marques Bailey

Jer’Marques enters the fold as another talented OL recruit. The first thing to notice on his highlight film is how strong he is, pushing defenders right off their feet when blocking. Bailey appears to be a monster in the run game with his ability to open up running lanes and looking for defenders to block after finishing his first block. He will still have to develop more skills to go along with his strength but the potential is clear. Jer’Marques looks like he is best suited for a guard spot with the Lobos.

OL Leke Asenuga

Leke is a great recruit who fell into the laps of New Mexico before signing day. He is a strong lineman, as demonstrated by his ability to block two defenders at once at times on his film. Asenuga pushes players back with zero problem when run-blocking, completely taking the defender out of the play. If the offense is adopting a run-first scheme (which would be smart), he would be ideal for it. Leke plays mostly tackle and his size projects well at that spot.

JUCO OL Isaak Gutierrez

Isaak is a recruit coming to New Mexico to give a boost to the offensive line. He can play along the interior of the line and knows exactly where to go with his blocks once the play starts. Gutierrez creates huge holes for running backs and maintains a low, athletic stance throughout the play. He excels in run-blocking and can get out in front of plays as a lead blocker. Isaak looks stout at center on film and would do well there for the Lobos.

Grad Transfer OL Ben Davis

High school highlights not found.

Ben comes from Minnesota for the final year of his college eligibility. He brings experience and knowledge of one of the highest levels of college competition. Davis should be expected to start from day one and likely occupy a guard position. He played sparingly for the Gophers over the past few seasons but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Ben is a perfect addition for a team who needs talented players next fall who can also serve as mentions to the younger players in order to establish the right culture.

DL OJ Bartley

OJ is another nice find for New Mexico. He is a high-motor player who does not take plays off on the field. Bartley is very strong and bull-rushes offensive lineman back on their heels on his way to the quarterback. He also brings a surprising amount of speed as he gets up to top speed quickly. OJ is able to play inside or outside the on the defensive line going forward.

DL Ian Shewell

Ian is a good looking recruit in this class. He explodes out of his stance after the snap and on some plays, seemingly runs through blockers to get in the backfield. Shewell brings a lot of athleticism to the d-line and does a great job keeping his hands active to bat down balls. He is pretty stout in running defense, not giving an inch on the line and getting his arms wrapped around running backs. Ian has alot of upside and looks like his has the ability to be a multi-year starter.

DE Bryce Santana

Bryce came to this class later in the recruiting cycle, but that doesn’t mean he lacks talent. He is quick off the edge after the snap and blows past blockers on his rushes. Santana displays good awareness as he reads blocks and patterns in the run game, keeping him from over-pursuing and being in position to stop the runner. He runs furiously when getting after quarterbacks and doesn’t stop until the whistle is blown. Bryce has to keep developing but will benefit a defensive line with his attitude and talent.

LB Dion Hunter

Dion comes in as a 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.

LB Semaj Sims

Semaj comes in to this class as a linebacker. He primary role appears to be a rusher, but he can drop back into coverage as well. Sims stays in an athletic stance and is constantly moving, which makes him poised to be in position to make a play. Whether rushing or stopping the run, he delivers hard hits with force behind his tackles. Semaj should develop into a solid starter for the Lobos.

LB Ray Leutele

Ray is a linebacker comfortable roaming in the middle of the defense. He sees players coming out of the backfield well, allowing him to move a step or two towards him before they get the ball. Leutele thrives in run support, where he can plug up a hole quickly and takes good angles to square up before a tackle. He is so much quicker than offensive lineman that he can get past them pretty easily. Ray appears to be a nice building block for the next wave on the Lobos defense.

LB Elijah Lash

Elijah is a two-way athlete coming to New Mexico as a linebacker. He is a nightmare for offenses as he can get into the backfield quickly while he pursues quarterbacks. Lash has a lot of length, which suits him well to get arms on a player and make a tackle. He has a good combination of strength and speed, making for a difficult matchup for would-be blockers. Elijah will need some more time to develop but he projection as a high-upside edge rusher going forward.

DB AJ Odums

AJ comes into this class as a defensive back. He plays tight coverage and is able to get inside position on jump balls against receivers, which gives him a fighting change to make a play. Odums is pesky, always staying right around the play and then able to step in to pick off a pass of get a deflection. He tracks the ball well in the air and can play in a variety of coverages. AJ has a good amount of upside and he can definitely play cornerback in college.

DB Quinn Potts

Quinn is listed as a RB and LB on hudl but New Mexico is recruiting him as a defensive back. He is an aggressive, shifty player who has good instincts, which will suit him well in coverage. Potts delivers hard hits when coming in on a play and tackling well in space is a needed quality as a DB. His awareness on the field will likely lead to fair amount of interceptions and pass breakups. Quinn is a good bet to keep developing at the college level and is a good type of recruit for where this New Mexico program is at.

DB Tavian Combs

Tavian is coming in to play safety for the Lobos. He displays at lot of range in the secondary, capable of covering about half the field on many of his highlights. Combs does a solid job getting his hands on the to make a play and he also positions his body well in the air in order to keep receivers from getting a free shot at the catch. He is a physical tackler, allowing him to be more than just a finesse type of safety. A high safety is probably where he is best suited going forward in his career.

DB Donald Jones

Donald is another defensive back, one who will likely play cornerback at New Mexico. He spent a good deal of time at quarterback in high school and that demonstrates an ability to make decisions, see the field and have a high football IQ, all qualities which will translate over to the secondary. Jones is a fluid runner who chops his steps well to slow himself down and get into good position to make a tackle. He can cover a lot of ground on the field and isn’t afraid to help out in the run game. Donald will need to keep developing but is a talent at corner.

ATH Darius McCray

Darius is another intriguing athlete in this class for a rebuilding program. He’s capable of playing on either side of the ball and brings a sense of physicality to the field. McCray has great game speed, whether that’s used to run crisp routes on offense or stick to receivers in coverage on defense. He is also a willing blocker, which is impressive. Darius could make an impact on either end of the field and it will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Jones, Asenuga, Queen

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Jones, Asenuga, Davis, Queen

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Shewell

Best unit:

Mike: Offensive line.

Summary:

New Mexico did a great job putting this class together in under two months. Though the class as a whole won’t get national attention, it’s easy to see the building blocks are here. They have a potential star entering the program, with future pieces all around. Plus, they were able to secure some immediate talent to help as soon as next season. This is a major positive for the new era at New Mexico and it is exciting to see them finally take recruiting seriously.

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Tomorrow: Colorado State