It appears that the New Mexico football team can now compete in the recruiting game.
The 2014 recruiting class for the Lobos highlights that fact.
UNM received 27 National Letters of Intent last week, and head coach Bob Davie said the Lobos were able to beat out Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College and California University for some of their new talent.
“This is a class where we had to beat more people than any class since I’ve been here,” he said. “We can beat some people here now with some kids.”
UNM football’s head coach Bob Davie praises his team on the sidelines after a timeout during the game against Air Force on Nov. 8. Davie attributes the successful recruiting class to continuity within the coaching staff and unwavering support from the Athletics Department.
Out of those 27 players, scouts rated three of them three-star recruits: defensive end Garrett Hughes, quarterback Jajuan Lawson and defensive back Juwan Jones. Davie said defensive tackle Cole Juarez and offensive lineman Aaron Jenkins were also big signees as well.
Hughes originally committed to Cal last fall but ended up switching to UNM because of new defensive line coach Barry Sacks, who coached the Golden Bears’ defensive line prior to becoming a Lobo.
Lawson had offers from big-name schools such as Arizona, Arizona State and Boston College. He wanted to stay at quarterback and thought UNM’s triple option scheme would be a perfect fit for his talents, Davie said.
As for Jones, rival Mountain West schools San Diego State, Colorado State and Hawaii were all courting the athlete from Chandler, Ariz. Davie said Jones shut his recruitment down early and ultimately chose the Lobos.
Davie attributed the successful recruiting class to continuity within the coaching staff along with the unwavering support from the Athletic Department.
UNM lost just two coaches this past offseason — defensive coordinator Jeff Mills and special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler. Mills was fired by Davie in December while Hutzler chose to leave UNM to join the Florida Gators.
Overall, the Lobos used 53 recruiting visits for the 2014 class.
“It takes a commitment, I don’t take for granted,” Davie said. “Not one time was I told that we were spending too much money on recruiting.”
But there is still a stigma that follows UNM, Davie said.
The negativity surrounding the Lobos might have to do with the fact that they have not had a winning season since 2007, and have won only nine games the past five years.
“It’s amazing how every kid comes in here and says, ‘Man, this is a lot better than I thought it was going to be.’ I’m not sure what the perception is. What is the perception of New Mexico?” Davie said. “Every guy says ‘I can’t believe how nice this is.’ I thought it was going to be this. It’s amazing to me. We fight that a little bit. We have to grind it in recruiting a bit.”
Lobos sign punter/kicker
On Thursday, UNM announced that punter/kicker Jason Sanders had become the latest signee for its 2014 recruiting class.
Hailing from Ville Park, Calif., Sanders was named the Central League Special Teams Player of the Year in 2013. Sanders averaged 45.04 yards per punt attempt and hit 7 of 12 field goals.
The Lobos lost both their punter and kicker this past season as Ben Skaer and Justus Adams exhausted their eligibility.
Skaer was fifth in the country in yards per kick (45.8) and was named First-Team All Mountain West this past season.
Adams converted 8 of 12 field goal attempts this past fall and hit all but one extra point attempt (49 of 50).