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2022 New Mexico Season Preview. Year 3 of the Gonzales Era.

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

Hard as it is to believe, we are onto year three of the Danny Gonzales era in Albuquerque.

Year one was quite the challenge for Coach Gonzales and company. A full season away from the Duke City ended with a 2-5 record. While 2021 brought a return to home for the season, it also brought a rough 3-9 record.

Year three seems to be on the precipice of success. A lot of excitement surrounds the program from within, even all the while UNM was picked to finish last in the Mountain Division of the conference by the media at Mountain West Conference Media Days.

The Lobos have a lot more experience coming back this season, some key transfers, a new offensive philosophy, the aggressive Rocky Long defense is still there, and some winnable games on a schedule that could line up for UNM to be playing towards a bowl game in December.


The 2022 edition of the New Mexico Lobos will be sporting a new offense—though it might be something similar that was run in Albuquerque recently.

New Mexico will be changing over to a triple option attack for this season, much similar to what Bob Davie had run for years at UNM.

Coach Gonzales has said since he took over that the most important position was the quarterback position. And he’s stacked at that position entering this season, with a lot of experience to boot as well. Which is huge because it has been one position that has seen eight different starters in the 20 games under Gonzales. Almost all of those changes were due to injuries.

Miles Kendrick transfers in from Kansas, providing the most experience in the stacked depth chart. The 5-foot-10 205-pound senior started two games at Kansas, while also appearing in 14 other contests for the Jayhawks. Kendrick played at the College of San Mateo, going 11-2 before transferring to Kansas. Kendrick has a solid arm and is really athletic. Tangibles that will come in handy with the new offense this season.

Isaiah Chavez is also back, having been the starting quarterback in three of the Lobos five wins under Gonzales. The 6-foot 195-pound redshirt sophomore has seen action in eight games over the last two seasons. He has completed 69% of his passes, with four touchdowns and one interception. Chavez does an excellent job of taking care of the ball, which is really needed with how explosive offenses are in college football. Keeping the ball away from the opposition will help go a long way to keeping UNM in games.

CJ Montes is also vying for playing time this season. Montes, a 6-foot-2 190-pound redshirt freshman, saw action in three contests last season, starting in the contest against Colorado State. Montes did struggle in his appearances, mainly due to injuries at other key positions. He got the snaps with the first team offense on the first night of fall practice.

The quarterback position also sees Jah’Mar Sanders, and Justin Holaday.

The most excitement surrounding the team might be in the backfield this season. Nathaniel Jones returns after redshirting in 2021. Jones turned down a scholarship to play at UCLA to come to Albuquerque to rush for Coach Gonzales and the Lobos. Jones played in six of the seven games during the 2020 season: rushing for 232 yards on 49 carries, with four touchdowns. Gonzales is very high on Jones, and Jones is determined to show why power five schools were looking at him in high school.

Bobby Wooden is also back for the 2022 season. The 5-foot-11 190-pound junior has seen action in 16 games the last two seasons for UNM, carrying the ball just 26 times for 59 yards. Wooden also has 15 catches for 74 yards in his career, and could be a sneaky quick receiver out of the backfield.

The Lobos are adding a pair of local transfers to the backfield depth chart this season. Dennis Hayden is a graduate transfer from Eastern New Mexico, where he saw action in all four seasons. Hayden also played at Sandia High School in Albuquerque. Call it a homecoming for the 5-foot-10 195-pound speedster.

The other transfer is Jaylen Morgan, who comes in from New Mexico Highlands. Morgan played two seasons up in Las Vegas, NM for the Cowboys, before coming to UNM. Morgan played at Rio Rancho High School in Albuquerque suburb Rio Rancho.

The Lobos could see Zach Vigil get some action this season. The 5-foot-10 185-pound freshman was named the 2021 Gatorade Player of the Year in high school in New Mexico while playing for Rio Rancho and leading them to a 6A state championship, going for 1,553 yards and 30 touchdowns in his final season.

At receiver, the Lobos have a ton of speed. Andrew Erickson leads the way for the corps, having played in 18 games the last two seasons. Erickson has 31 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-2 junior caught five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown against New Mexico State a season ago.

Converted quarterback Trae Hall could be a matchup nightmare for defenses. The senior has caught nine passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He is coming off an ankle injury suffered late last season. Hall can throw the ball downfield, so whenever he’s on the field, anything is possible on offense for UNM.

Lobo fans will also see Luke Wysong on the receiving end of passes this season. Wysong had a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown against Colorado State last season. He is very speedy and can be dangerous anytime he touches the ball. Jace Taylor is the tallest receiver the Lobos have, standing at 6-foot-5. He can be used really well for fade routes. Tight end Trace Bruckler will also be a favorite target of Lobo quarterbacks. Bruckler had 15 catches for 194 and three touchdowns last season. He is physical, and a tough matchup for either linebackers or defensive backs.

Key Stat:

The Lobos had no games last season with multiple rushing touchdowns. They will look to change that this season with a new offense that is leaning towards being heavy on the run.


Despite the 3-9 overall record, the Lobos defense improved over the 2020 season, and will look to be the top unit on the team for this season.

Safties Tavian Combs and Jerrick Reed II will be the leaders of the unit that will be looking to be in the opposing backfields more than the opposing quarterbacks.

Combs is a 6-foot-2 junior that has played in 18 games in his UNM career, amassing 132 tackles, two fumbles forced and two interceptions. Reed is utilizing his super senior season, brought upon by the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Reed has 173 tackles, 17 passes defensed and six interceptions. The defense will go how these two go.

In front of Reed and Combs at linebacker will be Reco Hannah. The 6-foot-2 210-pound senior had his 2021 season cut short due to injury but has played in 19 games in his UNM career. Hannah has just 41 tackles and two sacks but is my pick for a breakout season for the Lobos.

Sayire Riley will also be another key component of the defense at linebacker. Riley started 11 games last season for UNM. He has 51 tackles in his career and one sack. His experience will be needed with a lot of youngsters in the front six for UNM.

Donte Martin leads the way at the cornerback position for the Lobos. Martin, a 5-foot-10 185-pound senior, has started 26 games in his Lobo career. He has 81 tackles in his career and just one interception, but Martin has 20 passes defensed, tops for the Lobo defense. He will be all over the opposing team’s best receiver all season.

Senior Antonio Hunt will also bring some experience to the corner spot. Deuce Jones and Hunter

Sellers will also be names that Lobo fans will hear this season at the cornerback position.

Up front at the line, the defense has a lot of experience to replace, but is also loaded with talent.

Freshman David Rowaiye is big and athletic. He was the 5A Player of the Year in Oklahoma last season. The 6-foot-5 270-pound end has enough speed and talent to wreak havoc in the opposing backfields during the season.

Jake Saltonstall brings the most experience to the line, having played in 19 games in two seasons with the Lobos. Saltonstall has 48 tackles, including four and a half sacks in those 19 games.

Along with Saltonstall is Justin Harris. The Baylor transfer has played in 20 games in two

seasons with New Mexico. He had 41 tackles and four sacks. He can also wreak havoc for

opposing offenses.

The Lobos add UCLA transfer Tyler Kiehne, who is from Los Lunas, a town just 20-miles south of Albuquerque. Kiehne was the top-rated recruit coming out of New Mexico after the 2020 season.

Key Stat:

The Lobos held just two opponents under 20 points in 2021. The inability to move the football on offense put the defense in inopportune situations that led to a lot of points being given up. In those two games that they held an opponent under 20, the Lobos won both games. If the Lobos offense can control the ball, the better the Lobo defense will be.

Special Teams

George Steinkamp will do the place kicking for UNM, while All-Mountain West selection Aaron Rodriguez will have punting duties.

Steinkamp is 6-for-12 in his career at field goals, and eight-for-eight at extra points. Rodriguez is averaging 42.8 yards per punt over his 81 career punts. No doubt if he stays healthy, Rodriguez will be joining former Lobo Corey Bojorquez playing on Sunday.


The Lobos have several winnable games early in their schedule, and it will be interesting to see how well they will stack up against a couple of tough opponents early in the season. Following an opening week matchup with FCS member Maine, the Lobos will play host to Boise State in week two. Later in September, the Lobos will travel to meet LSU.

Sept. 3….Maine

Sept. 9….Boise State

Sept. 17…UTEP

Sept. 24…@ LSU

Sept. 30…@ UNLV

Oct. 8….Wyoming

Oct. 15…@ New Mexico State

Oct. 22…Fresno State

Nov. 5…@ Utah State

Nov. 12…@ Air Force

Nov. 18…San Diego State

Nov. 25…@ Colorado State

Final Thoughts from the writer:

There are good and bad things with the schedule, but a lot of excitement surrounding the new offense, and of course, the ever-aggressive defense.

The schedule has two tough contests, that being the bad part, in the first month with conference power Boise State and perennial power LSU. Aside from that, the Lobos have winnable games against Maine, UTEP, UNLV and New Mexico State that could get them to the four-win mark by the middle of October with five games left to get two wins to be bowl eligible. Even if the Lobos were to get to just four or five wins this season, I would consider that another step in the right direction for this program. The new offense will give opponents fits, and I would not at all be surprised if UNM got to six wins this season and go bowling in December.