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2021 Recruiting Breakdown: New Mexico

 A class to build a foundation

NCAA Football: New Mexico at San Jose State Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the eighth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today looks at the #8 team in our rankings, New Mexico.

New Mexico is building the foundation of their program with their first full class under Coach Gonzales. Last year focused on the trenches while this one appeared to have a concentrated effort on skill players. Regardless of the position, they built the class in the same way as the last one; locally and finding players who want to be part of a new program. To read more about this class, scroll below.

The Skinny:

  • 23 players signed
  • 21 high school players, 2 transfers
  • 13 offensive, 10 defensive
  • 19 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • Players with a composite rating over 85: 0
  • Players with a composite rating between 82-84: 5
  • Breakdown by state: 9 Texas, 5 California, 4 New Mexico, 3 Arizona, 2 Georgia, 1 Missouri
  • 94th in the 247 Composite Rankings

The Players:

QB Bear Milacek

Bear is a gamer at the quarterback position. He displays command of an offense and is a threat to run just as much as he is to pass. Milacek has increbile touch on his throws and can pass on the run as well. He shows determination to pick up yards when he tucks the ball to run and is elusive as he slips past defenders. Bear looks like he can be a multi-year starter as a college quarterback.

QB CJ Montes

CJ is another quarterback, as the Lobos seem to be collecting as many as possible. Similarly, he is also a dual-threat QB, who excels at throwing on the run. Montes is comfortable operating out of the shotgun, which allows him time to see routes develop and gives him a head start to elude defenders. He commands the offense with his big arm and mobile legs. CJ can find a role in any college offense, either as a starter or change of pace backup.

RB Aaron Dumas

Aaron is a compact running back out of a top high school program in Texas. He can run and catch, making him an impactful player in any offense. Dumas explodes out of the backfield and easily gets into the second level with his runs. He is shifty and powerful in addition to be fast, making him extremely well-rounded. Aaron can be another part of the Lobos rushing attack that was on display last season.

WR Kai Jessie

Kai is a tall, lean wide receiver. His tape shows he can out-jump and out-athlete just about anyone on the field. Jessie is easy to make the primary target along the sideline or in the red-zone thanks to his catching abilities. After the catch, he is difficult to bring down and makes people miss with his cuts. Kai is still a bit raw and would benefit from more development time but his talent is clear.

WR Benji Johnson

Benji is one of the best players in this recruiting class. He is an incredible athlete who can do it all on the field. Johnson is as much of a deep threat as he is a player who can get on the ball in space on screens or jet sweeps. He possesses great hands and leaping ability, which makes him difficult to guard. Benji should be able to find a role on the field right away next season.

WR Luke Wysong

Luke is another wide receiver in this class. He is a small and shifty player who excels with the ball in space. Wysong is versatile enough to line up in the slot and either run a traditional route or be used on a sweep or screen in the backfield. He is difficult to tackle due to his agility. Luke will be difficult to guard and should carve out a role sooner rather than later.

WR Keyonta Lanier (but not officially listed by the team account)

Keyonta comes from a powerhouse high school program in California. He is a dynamic wide receiver capable of making a big play at any time. Lanier is especially skilled at adjusting his route to the ball to ensure he catches the ball in stride, allowing him to run after the catch. He has great leaping ability and is a willing blocker on the outside. Keyonta is a good bet to make an impact for the Lobos early in his career.

WR Trace Bruckler

Trace is yet another wide receiver in this class. He brings a good deal of size to the position, along with plus route-running and cutting ability. Bruckler uses his body well to gain separation from defenders and can also outleap them. He possesses great hands and can be used in a variety of routes. Trace will complement the other receivers in this class nicely.

Transfer WR Cjay Boone

Cjay was a one-time Missouri player who is starting fresh in New Mexico. He has long strides and gains separation after the catch to turn receptions into big plays. Boone is a great deep-threat option, in thanks to his route-tunning and ability to track the ball in the air. He is a prime target on big plays and in the endzone. Cjay figures to add instant depth and talent to the wide receiver position.

TE Jacob Trussell

Jacob will bring an injection of talent to the tight end spot. He has huge size, making him a big target for the offense. Trussell is at his best lined up off the line where he can create a mismatch over the middle of the field. He is a big-play threat in the middle and deep passing game. Jacob could make an impact sooner rather than later for the Lobos.

OL Arrison Cole

Arrison is a mammoth offensive lineman. His size is immediately noticeable as he towers over defenders and can overpower them with ease. Cole is physical at the point of attack, regularly pancaking opposing lineman in order to impact the play. He plays through the whistle and is equally skilled in pass and run-blocking. Arrison looks like he can play tackle in college successfully.

OL Isaiah Sillemon

Isaiah is another o-line recruit. He brings a great deal of power, doing a great job involving his lower body into his run-blocking. Sillemon is also mobile, being used to pull and get out in front of runs outside of the pocket. He often gets in the second level on blocks to take out defenders and extend plays. Isaiah seems to profile best as a guard at the next level.

OL Larry Luna

Larry comes to New Mexico to play on the offensive side of the ball. He has a solid combination of being athletic and aggressive which leads to winning his assignment more often than not. Luna creates big holes at the line of scrimmage, which goes a long way in the run game. He has noticeable strength, getting his lower body to explore upward into his blocks. Larry looks like he could play anywhere along the line but tackle will probably be his home.

DE Jaden Phillips

Jaden is a local recruit who is coming in to play defensive end. He played on both sides of the ball in high school and will bring that athleticism to the defense, where he can jump off the snap to get after quarterbacks. Phillips pursues the ball relentlessly and shakes off blockers to make a play. His speed can catch up to running backs and quarterbacks and he wraps up well. Jaden has the potential to be quite a player in college.

DE Ja’shon Lowery

Ja’shon has a long, athletic frame built for pass-rushing. He disrupts offenses with ease thanks to his speed and high motor during plays. Lowery takes good angles to beat blocks and squares up perfectly on his tackles. He is a big part of the run defense and can tackle in space as well. Ja’shon has a chance to become a great defensive end during his time at New Mexico.

LB Ernesto Acuna

Ernesto is an athletic, disruptive linebacker in this New Mexico class. He brings intensity to the defense and is a menace in the run game. Acuna also has the speed and strides to match up in short-yardage coverage, adding to his game. He takes proper angles to the ball and tackles well in space. Ernesto looks like he can find a home as an outside linebacker who can provide some coverage abilities.

LB Alec Marenco

Alec comes to New Mexico as a linebacker. He is an extremely hard-hitter who never stops moving on the field. Marenco dominates against the run, flocking to the ball with impressive closing speed. He diagnoses plays and fills gaps to prevent explosive runs. Alec looks like he will become a solid linebacker at the next level.

LB JD Roberts

JD is a fast-moving linebacker coming to the Lobos. He flies all over the field, making an impact wherever the play happens to be. Roberts is equally adept in stopping the run of causing havoc blitzing, either way, he makes a hard hit. He is strong enough to go up against offensive lineman and quick enough to get by them. JD should be formidable at the WILL linebacker spot.

Transfer LB Jeffrey Blake

Jeffrey Blake spent a lot of time in high school playing tight end and linebacker but is projected to be a defensive lineman for the Aztecs. He flies off the edge to get into the backfield and potential blockers have little chance against him. Blake moves extremely well and is strong enough to push people aside or else knock them back with a bull-rush. He doesn’t give up on plays and chases quarterbacks down from the other side of the play numerous times on his tape. Jeffrey will be an athletic presence on the defensive line for San Diego State and should carve out a role after a year or so.

DB Ronald Wilson

Ronald is a safety who hails from Texas. He is all over the field and can make an impact in a variety of ways. Wilson is versatile enough to play in run support on the line, blitzing, or in coverage making a play on the ball. He has pretty good size and above-average speed which allows him from being overpowered in matchups. Ronald looks like he will be best suited for a hybrid safety role where his versatility can be utilized.

DB Andrell Barney

Andrell is a two-way player coming to New Mexico as a defensive back. He is a relentless player who does not give up on plays. Barney diagnoses plays as soon as the ball is snapped and then closes in on the play to make a physical tackle. He excels at tackling in the open field, which serves him well in the secondary. Andrell is a well-rounded cornerback who will make an impact at the next level.

DB Damon Gentry

Damon is a multi-talented athlete coming to the secondary for the Lobos. He can make an impact in all three phases of the game. Gentry is a ball-hawk who is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. He tracks passes well in the air and positions his body well to get the edge over receivers and make a play. Damon has the potential to develop into a play-maker for New Mexico.

DB Xavier Hailey

Xavier brings physicality to the secondary. He plays tight coverage and is able to match receivers stride for stride. Hailey has great closing speed and keeps his hands active to make plays on the ball. He can also make an impact on a returner on special teams. Xavier will add some playmaking ability to the secondary.

DB Coryon Francis

Coryon is the latest defensive back New Mexico took this year. He is patient enough not to over-pursue on plays and aggressive enough to commit to laying a big hit to bust up a play. Francis is impressive against the run, maintaining contain and displaying formidable tackles. He is physical in coverage as well and rarely lets receivers gain separation. Coryon should have a productive career in college.

Team Writer:

Adam: This is a legit recruiting class for Danny Gonzales and company. They have addressed several needs such as defensive backs and fast, tall receivers, and have added recruits from New Mexico. That is something New Mexicans love to see. Benji Johnson and Kai Jessie are awesome pick ups, and both remind me of Corey Davis. They will be needed on the Lobos up-tempo offense.

To me, Xavier Hailey could be the biggest recruit here. Rocky Long’s defense relies on under-recruited players that can fly around and be physical. He is a player that fits that mold.

Quick Hits:


Mike: Johnson, Lanier, Dumas

Adam: Johnson, Trussell, Dumas

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Johnson, Lanier, Dumas, Sillemon

Adam: Johnson, Dumas, Hailey, Marenco, Luna

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Lowery, Hailey

Adam: Hailey, Jessie

Best unit:

Mike: Wide Receiver, defensive back.

Adam: Wide Receiver, Offensive Line


New Mexico followed up their initial class with a foundational compliment this cycle. Similar to last year, this class won’t wow in the rankings but there are some important building blocks and perhaps even future cornerstones to be found here. Just as importantly, they secured a good deal of local talent and are making recruiting inroads in other important western states. The Lobos appear to be on a good pace recruiting and at this point in their rebuild, it’s all positive.

Previous: San Diego State, Boise State, Fresno State, UNLV, Nevada, Colorado State, Air Force.

Monday: San Jose State