Welcome to UNM and the Mountain West Conference, football younglings.
For 18 freshmen on the UNM football team, wanting to make an instant impact and get playing time is the No. 1 priority.
That’s especially the case for Mike Locksley’s top recruit, Calvin Smith.
Smith was a highly touted three-star recruit out of Hialeah High School in Hialeah, Fla., and was looked at by football powerhouses like Florida State, Tennessee and defending national champion Alabama.
Smith said he is energized to be at UNM.
“I think it is great so far,” he said. “You know, I am going to come in here and try to do my best. I am going to work hard on the field and off the field. I am going to try to become a leader.”
Other than becoming a field general, Smith said the 2010 season will be much better than the 2009 display.
The Lobos went 1-11 last season and dealt with several off-the-field distractions, one that included a one-game suspension for Locksley after a physical altercation with former wide receivers coach J.B. Gerald.
But none of that has bothered Smith. He said that the UNM coaching staff has a positive vibe and that they have the kinks worked out for the upcoming season.
“I think that they know what they are doing,” Smith said. “They are going to lead us to victory, the talent that is coming in. That should help us win a couple more games than we did last year and things are going to get better.”
Smith will join a defensive line that was perhaps the brightest spot on the field last season.
He will team up with defensive lineman Jaymar Latchison and Jonathan Rainey.
Rainey led the MWC in tackles for loss.
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“I am going to come in and make this defensive line even that much better,” Smith said.
As far as the quarterback position is concerned, Darian “Stump” Godfrey said it’s an open arms race.
Godfrey, a Gilmer High School product, was voted Texas’ Mr. Football in 2009 and in 2007, as a sophomore, led Gilmer to a 14-1 record and state runner-up in Texas’ Class 3A division.
Godfrey said he chose UNM because he likes what Locksley had to offer.
“He won me over on the first day when he came in and we sat down face-to-face,” Godfrey said. “He talked to me and gave me what he was going to do and he basically said he was determined to win and he wanted a great player to come out here to New Mexico and help him win.”
Godfrey is known for his mobility and speed at the quarterback position. This might give him an advantage when fall camp opens up next month.
He is competing with sophomore quarterback and maybe the slated starter for the first game at Oregon, B.R. Holbrook, junior Brad Gruner and freshman Tarean Austin.
Godfrey said UNM will have to alter its mentality for the upcoming season.
“We have to stay humble and stay focused,” he said. “You can’t go out and get the big head and you can’t get hot headed when you lose. You have to stay the same and stay on the same level at all times.”