On Saturday, Jan. 17, redshirt senior and defensive tackle Aaron Blackwell announced on Twitter that he will be leaving the University of New Mexico football program by entering the NCAA transfer portal.
“I have ultimately decided after much praying and contemplation that it is best I leave University of New Mexico for my last season,” Blackwell said in the post. “I truly believe Coach Gonzales and his staff are the best for the job and wish them and University the best of luck moving forward.”
This is the fourth member of the football team to announce that they are leaving the program after the hiring of new head coach Danny Gonzales. Blackwell joins linebacker Dylan Horton, running back Lawrence “L.O” Johnson and defensive end Trent Sellers. Most of these players had been in the transfer portal since the end of the season.
Blackwell and Horton have already accepted offers to go to other universities, with Blackwell announcing that he will be playing for the University of Arizona. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman was a team captain last year for the 2-10 Lobos and was the lone starter that returned from the 2018 season.
Blackwell suffered a season-ending right knee injury in the first game of the 2019 campaign and was granted another year of eligibility on a medical waiver.
He’ll have a familiar face on the sidelines in the coaching realm: Arizona hired former UNM defensive line coach Stan Eggen to the same role after Eggen departed the Lobo program after four years. Blackwell is also originally from the state of Arizona.
Gonzales responded to Blackwell leaving on Twitter by wishing him luck and confirmed later that Horton will be attending TCU next year.
Johnson, who entered the transfer portal before the hiring of Gonzales, is expected to return to the football program as he is on the indoor track and field team. He only played one game in 2019 due to a shoulder injury.
Sellers, who recorded 17 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery and was a team captain last season, also entered the portal before the hiring of Gonzales. He has not told the team whether he will return to the program or leave.
Spencer Butler is a sports reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SpencerButler48