Welcome to the seventh piece of our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. These articles aim 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 this year in alphabetical order. Today will look at New Mexico.
New Mexico was hoping to take a step forward in the 2023 season, but the same was said last year too. Unfortunately, in what seemed like a do-or-die season for the coaching staff, things didn’t go much better than in other years. They alternated blowouts in their P5 and FCS games, but dropped a close one against arch-rivals New Mexico State before beating UMass in OT. Things fell apart for the Lobos in conference play, as they lost two straight before beating Hawaii and then lost three straight until a huge upset win against Fresno State. An OT loss ended the season and they finished two games short of a bowl, resulting in a broken promise by Danny Gonzales. He was ultimately fired and the program needs to start over once again.
Since then, New Mexico has seen many players enter the transfer portal, but at least three players have withdrawn their name, which is a positive development. The new coaching staff in up and running and their immediate focus is filling out a roster. Surprisingly, they were able to announce a few signings during the early period. To learn more about their class, keep reading.
The Road So Far:
New Mexico has never been a destination program when it comes to the world of college football. While Coach Gonzales initially tried to turn this around with high school recruiting, he altered his philosophy last year, bringing in more junior college players and transfers. This year, at the time of his firing, the Lobos didn’t even have any commits, so it’s likely he was set to use the portal to a greater degree this year.
Anyway, Coach Mendenhall announced two signees in the early going. It’s an even split with one who will play offense, and the other one will be on defense. One signee is a local player from New Mexico, and the other is from nearby Arizona.
Offensively, Sa’Kylee Woodard is coming in as an offensive lineman. Arizona had quite a few talented interior linemen in this cycle, and Woodard looks like a good one, as he already has the size and strength to play at the next level.
Over on defense, the Lobos secured a linebacker named John Sierra. He is a local recruit and looks like he has the prototype size to play in the middle of the defense for the program down the line.
Number who signed in December: 2
Number who will enroll early: 0
247 Composite Rankings (subject to change):
- Overall: 164th
- Recruiting: 164th
- Transfer: 94th
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB
New Mexico got the ball rolling, but there is still a ton of work to do over the coming weeks and months. It should be noted that the Lobos that a few junior college and transfer players have announced they have committed to New Mexico, but they have not been announced by the school at this time. This may be do to paperwork needing to be finalized or perhaps the school isn’t announcing transfers, but continuing to add more players is a necessity for the program.
The Lobos need more players at every single position, so any player they can get would be beneficial. They have lost a ton of players on the offense line so far in the transfer portal, making that a priority position going forward. The defense also took a big step back this past season, so looking to add players who can help stabilize that side of the ball immediately would be a wise choice.
The bad news for Coach Mendenhall and his staff is there are lots of areas of improvement on this team and lots of holes in the roster. The good news is in many ways, the Lobos can be a blank slate and the coaches can offer immediate playing time for transfers to turn things around. Expect them to be active in the transfer portal and things should look a lot different by the February signing day.
Coming next: San Diego State