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Goodbye, Mr. Yeastraiv, and Best of Luck

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Rick WrightFor lack of a good cover story, was a quarterback lost?

On the afternoon of April 24, a man identifying himself as Anthony Yeastraiv was pulled over for speeding on San Pedro. He was in fact Emmanuel Yeager, a freshman QB who 18 days later would leave the University of New Mexico football program.

According to police, Yeager’s story collapsed after he told the responding officer his birth date was Feb. 24, 1985, but said his age was 20; actually, he’s 18. Yeager then was arrested for speeding, concealing his identity, driving without a license and driving without proof of insurance.

The most serious of these offenses, concealing his identity, might have been avoided with a little planning and forethought.

As a false name, Yeastraiv was a good choice — vaguely European. Probably Slavic, but possibly Israeli. Hard to trace. Google “Yeastraiv,” and you get zip.  

But Anthony Yeastraiv? Not so good. Why not Vladimir Yeastraiv, international soccer star? “Sorry officer, am late for flight to Moscow. Big match tomorrow. Can get you tickets if you want.”

Or Pyotr Yeastraiv, film director: “Sorry, officer, am late for important scene at Sandia Crest starring Christian Bale. He’ll come yell at you if you don’t let me go.”

Or Shlomo Yeastraiv, UNM exchange student: “Sorry, officer, am late for Lobo football tryouts. Place-kicker, you know. Maybe I can kick a touchdown for you.”

But, no. Yeager’s Lobo legacy will consist of one spring practice, one suspension, three traffic violations and one misdemeanor.

First-year coach Mike Locksley says Yeager’s exit from the program had nothing to do with his legal scrape. The young quarterback needed be closer to his home in Washington D.C., Locksley said, because of family issues.

One brush with the law probably wouldn’t have been cause for dismissal, anyway; it hasn’t been in the past under former coach Rocky Long. Nor should one such incident, considering the past, be held against Locksley.

Still, here’s a quote from the new coach from signing day in February: “… We were going to recruit guys that we knew, had ties and relationships (with) where we could get the information we needed to make good choices on character.”

For now, file that one away.

POINT GUARD U.: In this space on Sunday, I wrote about Lobo men’s basketball signee Isaiah Rusher’s strong showing at coach Steve Alford’s Elite Camp.

Equally impressive, though a head-and-a-half shorter than the 6-foot-10 Rusher, was incoming freshman point guard Jamal Fenton.

And Fenton, unlike Rusher, is already eligible.

Saturday, often working against junior point guard Dairese Gary, Fenton was consistently able to penetrate and kick. But he also hit several soft 3-pointers.

Fenton is listed at 5-9 and is probably more like 5-7. Yet, he averaged 21.7 points per game this past season for Houston’s Chavez High School (get this) Lobos.

Any player that short will be a defensive liability at times, but Fenton is as strong as he is quick. Offense? I’m not calling him the next Nate Robinson, but the young man can score.

Fenton’s presence means UNM has three point guards — Fenton, Gary and Nate Garth — of different sizes and with different skills. Is that too many?

Alford doesn’t think so, especially since position distinctions tend to blur in his preferred motion offense.

“We don’t really label them, but you’ll see us play a couple of point guards together a lot of times,” he said.

A SAD SONG: Gabriel Leão, a Brazilian boxing writer, used lyrics from an old song in describing his countrywoman Duda Yankovich’s loss to Albuquerque boxer Holly Holm. The song, sung by the late Brazilian singer Maysa, is entitled “Meu Mundo Caiu (My World Fell).”

“What happens,” Leão wrote of the previously unbeaten Yankovich, “when the world is yours and you suddenly lose it?” His and Maysa’s advice to Yankovich (and, maybe, to us all): “If my world fell, I must learn to raise it.”

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