Identical twins Rashad and Vershad Jackson, who had left the team after an incident on the practice field during training camp in Ruidoso, returned and were reinstated on Monday by Lobos coach Bob Davie.
“I just think it was the right decision, the right thing to do,” Davie said after Monday’s practice of the two sophomore cornerbacks’ reinstatement. “We’re moving forward, and (the twins) understand the criteria under which they were brought back.
“They’ll start at the bottom and have to work the way up the depth chart.”
Rashad Jackson said he and his brother were grateful to be reinstated and eager to resume their place on the team.
“It’s truly a blessing to get back on the field with our teammates,” he said. “We have an outstanding bunch that goes way past football. … All the guys are loving, welcoming with open arms. We’re just ready to get back on the field.”
On Aug. 7, during a morning practice at the Lobos’ training camp in Ruidoso, Davie criticized Rashad Jackson for his play and sent him off the field. Vershad Jackson, who was playing the other cornerback position at the time, also left the field without having been so ordered. When Vershad was urged to get back on the field, he refused.
Davie suspended Vershad Jackson indefinitely. Rashad Jackson told Davie he was unsure of his own status in light of his brother’s suspension.
After sending the twins back to Albuquerque, Davie announced two days later that they were no longer members of the team.
Vershad Jackson said on Monday he regretted having refused to return to the practice field in Ruidoso and, like his brother, was grateful for the opportunity to return.
“It was an over-reaction, something that never should have occurred,” he said. “Spur of the moment, lack of character. But we bounced back, and it’s gonna get better.”
Rashad Jackson said he and his brother, who had been working with the first- and second-team defenses before the incident, had no problem with coming back and starting at the bottom of the depth chart.
“I see this as an opportunity to get better,” he said. “It motivates us to go harder … I don’t see this as a setback.”
BY THE NUMBERS: The Jackson twins, who wore jerseys No. 2 (Rashad) and No. 3 (Vershad) before their departure, are now Nos. 30 (Vershad) and 20 (Rashad).
In the twins’ absence, jersey No. 2 was given to running back Crusoe Gongbay and No. 3 to cornerback Cranston Jones.
Defensive linemen Nik D’Avanzo and Christopher Smalls also have switched jersey numbers. D’Avanzo, a true freshman, is now No. 91. Smalls, a sophomore walk-on, is No. 50.
FULL RETENTION: Before the Jacksons’ departure from the program was announced by Davie on Aug. 9, the 2013 UNM roster included every player (other than departing seniors) that was with the team at the start of last season.
With their return, the retention rate is again 100 percent.
The last player to leave the program and not return was safety Zoey Williams, who was dismissed last August in Ruidoso for an undisclosed violation of team policy.
POSITION CHANGE: Sophomore walk-on David Anaya has been moved from safety to running back, Davie said. The former Roswell Goddard star played running back last season as a freshman, then was moved to safety during spring practice.
OPENER ON TV: The Lobos’ season opener against Texas-San Antonio at University Stadium on Aug. 31 will be televised by KASY (My50TV), UNM announced Monday.
Jay Howard, a former longtime radio announcer for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, will call the game. David Williams, former Del Norte and Eldorado football coach, will provide analysis.
TRYOUTS: The Lobo coaching staff will hold a preseason tryout for UNM students interested in joining the program. A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Tow Diehm Complex at the south end of University Stadium.
The tryout is scheduled for Aug. 28. For more information, call the UNM football office at 505-925-5700.
MWC TITLE GAME: The Mountain West Conference championship game, scheduled for Dec. 7, will be telecast on CBS Sports Network. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. MST start.