ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As always, respect is not given. It must be earned.
Each summer, college football guru Phil Steele releases his preseason all conference picks for all of the major conferences. Steele goes four-deep at each position, including special teams, meaning 104 players are mentioned.
In Steele’s Mountain West Conference picks, the New Mexico Lobos get four of 104 — the lowest of any MWC team.
New Mexico did get two first-team picks — offensive guard LaMar Bratton and kick returner Carlos Wiggins. Defensive end Brett Bowers is a second-team pick, offensive guard Jamal Price a third-teamer. Steele notes that Bratton might wind up playing center, not offensive guard, this fall.
To no one’s surprise, Boise State leads the way with 15 players mentioned, followed by Colorado State (12) and Utah State and Fresno State (10 apiece).
Air Force, the only conference team New Mexico beat last season, checks in with eight. Hawaii, which didn’t win a conference game last fall (the Rainbow Warriors didn’t play the Lobos), has nine.
Somewhat surprisingly, Rocky Long’s San Diego State Aztecs have the next-to-fewest picks (six).
One wonders of UNM might have had a couple of more players mentioned were it not for the suspensions of running back Crusoe Gongbay and cornerback SaQwan Edwards. Gongbay and Edwards are under suspension while awaiting trial on charges of rape and kidnapping.