The only quarterback to guide the University New Mexico to a bowl victory during the past 50 years will be returning to the metro area next season to play pro indoor ball for the Rio Rancho-based New Mexico Stars of the Lone Star Football League.
Donovan Porterie, a four-year starter at UNM who directed a 20-0 victory over QB Colin Kaepernick’s Nevada Wolf Pack in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl, joined former Lobo teammate Roland Bruno on Monday as the first Stars signees for the 2014 season.
“My brother (Alex) actually lives in (Albuquerque), so it’s a great chance to get back,” Porterie said by phone Wednesday. “I had no idea the New Mexico Stars were interested in me, but with coach (Dominic) Bramante there I thought it would be a wonderful experience to come back and play for a guy who’s got a lot of great contacts. I’m looking for an avenue for getting to a higher league.”
Plus, Porterie and Bruno are close friends.
“He lived five miles from me while I was growing up in Port Arthur, Texas,” Porterie said. “Our relationship extends back to high school. We were frat brothers at UNM.”
Whereas Bruno, a daredevil wide receiver/defensive back, has stayed in the public eye by playing for the Stars the past two seasons (15 TDs in 2013), Porterie has worked in relative obscurity since leaving UNM after the 2009 season.
After a brief fling in 2010 with the NFL’s Detroit Lions in minicamp and OTAs as an undrafted free agent, he played in the Indoor Football League for the Fairbanks (Alaska) Grizzlies in 2011 and the past two seasons for the Green Bay Blizzard before opting for a new home. In that stretch he threw 90 TD passes.
But it actually was an exhibition game in Alaska in 2011 against the Alaska Wild team run by current Stars GM Abe Hernandez that helped pave the way for his return to New Mexico.
“He was the coach for the Wild, and I had a really good game against them,” Porterie said. “I had, I believe, about eight touchdowns passes against him. We beat him pretty bad.”
Bramante, a close friend of Super Bowl-winning Baltimore coach John Harbaugh and the first Native American head coach in pro indoor football history, has stressed he’s looking for local talent for the team. Thus, he said it was natural for him to pursue Porterie, who played for coach Rocky Long his first three seasons as a Lobo and for Mike Locksley as a senior in 2009.
“I did my homework,” Bramante said. “I even got in touch with Locksley. He spoke well of him.
“But the No. 1 thing I like about Donovan is his résumé. When you can say you’re a four-year starter on the D-I level, that’s huge. I also liked his height. He’s 6-4, 220. And he’s had a cup of coffee in the NFL. Plus, he’s got the UNM following. It was a no-brainer.”
Said Porterie: “Once he found out I was leaving Green Bay, he really reached out to me and get me signed.”
Bramante also gives Bruno high marks: “He’s a real character player, one you want to work overtime with.”
Porterie’s signing gives the Stars two established QBs. Last year’s starter, Kasey Peters, joined the team at midseason and wound up as the league’s Co-Offensive Player of the Year. However, he plans to attend an AFL tryout next month, so his status with the Stars remains up in the air.
If he returns, Bramante said, both quarterbacks will attend the Ken Mastrole Passing Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., later this year. Mastrole was the personal quarterback coach of EJ Manuel this offseason. Manuel was the first QB selected in the 2013 NFL draft and now starts for Buffalo.