ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sophomores Gerron Borne and Paytron Hightower have been suspended indefinitely, University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie announced Tuesday. Why, specifically, he would not say.
Davie, however, was definite and specific about this: The two young defensive linemen will not see the field again this season.
“I can be more specific by saying that it’s an indefinite suspension,” he said, “but the ‘definite’ is that (the players’ situation won’t be reviewed) until the season’s over.”
In a news release issued Tuesday morning, Davie said the players had been suspended due to “conduct detrimental to the team.” He said Tuesday evening that the matter did not involve academics. According to Metropolitan Detention Center records, neither Borne nor Hightower has been arrested.
“It was just something that I could not look the other way,” Davie said. “I chose to address it and identify it. … It’s something I think, just for them and for the good of this program, had to be done.
“There was a situation here that I didn’t think was quite right. I investigated it at full speed myself, and I found out I had to make this decision. That’s what it is. Nobody else found it for me; I found it.”
Both players are backups, though Hightower was listed as the Lobos’ No. 2 defensive right end for the Pittsburgh game behind junior Brett Bowers. During preseason workouts, Hightower, 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, from Dallas, drew several positive mentions from Davie.
Hightower appeared in the season opener against UTSA but did not make a tackle. He did not play in the Lobos’ games at UTEP and Pittsburgh.
Borne, 6-2 and 262, from Reserve, La., was, according to some recruiting services, the highest-rated member of Davie’s first recruiting class in 2012. But he progressed slowly last season, appearing in only two games.
He saw his first action of the 2013 season at Pittsburgh and made one tackle.
Sophomore defensive lineman Dominic Twitty, Davie said, is the player most likely to be affected by Borne and Hightower’s absence.
“Dom Twitty is someone we were really hoping to redshirt. We’re still gonna try, but Dom now becomes a guy that’s probably gonna have to play for us.”
Davie said senior Jacori Greer, who moved this fall from defensive end to nose tackle, might see playing time at end because of the progress being made by true freshman nose tackle Nik D’Avanzo.
TALKIN’ ABOUT PRACTICE: The Lobos, who don’t have a game Saturday, practiced for two hours in full pads Tuesday. Full contact was limited due to depth concerns, Davie said, but necessary because the younger players need to see things at as near game speed as possible.
“We’re smart about it,” he said. “We have to do some things full speed because … we are so young that we have to see things that happen in a game over and over. The only way to duplicate that out here (on the practice field) is to make it as game-like and as specific as we can make it.”
“We call them ‘hot periods,’ where we go as full speed as we can without just causing huge piles. We do that for maybe 10 minutes or 20 minutes.”
A WELCOME DILEMMA: Junior kick returner Chase Clayton, the Mountain West Conference preseason Special Teams Player of the Year, is expected to return for the Lobos’ Sept. 28 game against UNLV after missing two games with a knee injury suffered in the season opener against UTSA. Last year, Clayton twice returned kickoffs 98 yards for touchdowns.
In his absence, sophomore Carlos Wiggins returned four kickoffs at Pittsburgh for an average of 33.5 yards, including a 74-yarder that set up a 28-yard Justus Adams field goal for UNM’s first points of the game.
“I think we’ll put both of them back there,” Davie said.