Once again, Bob Davie focused his recruiting efforts mainly on the defensive side of the ball — specifically on defensive linemen.
The head coach of New Mexico football signed 26 players for the 2014 recruiting class, six of whom are defensive linemen.
The Lobos were paper-thin last year at both defensive tackle and defensive end and were bullied by opposing offensive lines for a majority of their 3-9 campaign. UNM lost three defensive linemen from last season’s team: Jacori Greer and Fatu Ulale exhausted their eligibility, while Gerron Borne left the team after the season.
Davie said UNM’s defense — a unit that ranked near the bottom of several defensive stats last season — starts from the inside out.
“I cannot turn away a defensive lineman,” Davie said. “I’ve been in this long enough to say I don’t want to take six defensive linemen… I’ll abandon the plan to take defensive linemen. You just can’t find them.”
To go along with those defensive linemen, UNM inked four defensive backs and five linebackers.
The past two seasons, the Lobos defense has been undersized and overmatched against most of its opponents.
Davie said the coaches put an emphasis on size in this year’s recruiting class.
“I just want to be able to stop someone. It’s been hard,” Davie said. “It’s obvious what we’re doing with size. We have to be able to match up. Who knows? I feel really good about this. We evaluated really hard.”
Seven of the 14 defensive players the Lobos signed are from junior colleges. Overall, 11 of the 26 players come from junior colleges.
Four of them — running back Jakari Johnson, tight end Nick Lehman and defensive tackles Cole Juarez and Jack Ziltz — are sophomores and have three years of eligibility.
During the season, Davie said the 2014 recruiting class would not be heavy on junior college players.
“Having those two open dates during the season really helped us, particularly from the junior college end,” Davie said. “We put so much emphasis with that during the season and we got off to a quick start with that.”
On the offensive side of the ball, UNM signed three wide receivers, two quarterbacks, two running backs, two tight ends and two offensive linemen.
With the addition of the quarterbacks JaJuan Lawson and Patrick Reed, the Lobos now have seven signal-callers on the roster including starter Cole Gautsche and backup Clayton Mitchem. Davie said that all seven quarterbacks will have a shot at the starting spot.
“In this profession, you gotta find ‘that’ quarterback,” Davie said. “Hopefully out of all those numbers one of those guys will emerge as the guy.”