It’s now or never for the junior transfer Sheriron Jones, who finds himself the starting quarterback for the University of New Mexico Lobos in week three of the season, against the rival New Mexico State Aggies.
It was only two Saturdays ago that Jones, a Moreno Valley, California native, found himself as the third option for the Lobos, with redshirt sophomore Tevaka Tuioti being named the starter, and redshirt senior Colton Gerhart being named Tuioti’s backup.
Jones, at one point, was at Tennessee as a freshman, although he didn’t play and sat on the bench before transferring. He then played at Mt. San Jacinto, a junior college, before coming to New Mexico.
Tuioti exited the game at Wisconsin last week with an apparent head injury after he suffered a hard hit on an option pitch in the second quarter. Gerhart, meanwhile, suffered a sprained ankle in the Lobos’ season opener and is out for the time being, leaving Jones as the new captain steering the offensive ship.
After entering in the second quarter for Tuioti, however, Jones’ limited reps were apparent. Jones finished last Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin with 79 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions.
UNM head coach Bob Davie said that’s expected of a player who didn’t participate in spring practice, and especially so for a player who injured his hamstring in the midst of a three way quarterback race for the starting position during fall camp.
“He’s a guy that came in thinking he could win the starting job,” Davie said of Jones.
The head coach added that Jones wasn’t as good as he could have been during the game last Saturday, but said that he’s “anxious” to see the mentality he brings on Saturday.
Davie also said that, outside of a couple reads, the playbook hasn’t changed much with Jones at the helm.
Trae Hall, a 6-foot-2 freshman out of Henderson, Texas will back up Jones.
The third option at quarterback, for the time being, is sophomore Bryson Carroll, a running back turned quarterback for UNM. Carroll played quarterback back in high school, rushing for 2,417 yards in his junior and senior years at Roosevelt High School in San Antonio, Texas.
When asked if Jones can become the starter pending a great performance on Saturday, Davie laughed. “The next press conference we have, I’d love to hear that question,” he said.
Despite the injury-ridden start at the quarterback position, Davie said he feels good about what this team brings.
“I will say this, I really like our team, I really like our team, I really like our coaching staff,” Davie said. “The way they approach things, the kind of chemistry we have, the kind of leadership we have. With that said, we know the challenge. We’ve lost two in a row (to the Aggies.)”
UNM has lost in the last two seasons to NMSU — both games by close margins. In 2016, the Lobos fell to the Aggies 31-32, and last season in Albuquerque they lost 28-30.
When asked if he feels added pressure on his job if the Lobos lose a third straight rivalry game, especially with the addition of investigations surrounding him within the last year, Davie responded.
“You got all the facts on that question, you should probably figure that out yourself.”
The Lobos will head to Las Cruces on Saturday for a 6 p.m. matchup with in-state rival New Mexico State. With a win, the Lobos can move to 2-1 on the season before getting a week off from live action.
The Aggies will enter Saturday night at 0-3.
Matthew Narvaiz is a sports beat reporter and senior writer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football, however he also contributes other sports content. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.