Jared EnRico didn’t see the scholarship coming.
He’s oh, so glad it did.
EnRico, a redshirt freshman deep snapper from La Mirada, Calif., who joined the University of New Mexico football program last year as a walk-on, was told Wednesday morning that he’s been placed on scholarship.
His reaction? Tears of joy.
“I was in a (team) meeting, just like every other meeting,” EnRico said after Wednesday’s practice. He was listening to coach Bob Davie speak, he said, not expecting anything in particular.
Suddenly, Davie began talking about “a walk-on from California.”
“I was like, ‘Wait a minute,’ EnRico said. “And then he said, ‘We’re going to put him on full scholarship.’
“I started crying, just because it’s kind of a big deal. It takes weight off my parents’ shoulders, and that’s what I had in mind when I first got here.”
Throughout spring practice and preseason workouts, EnRico and junior-college transfer Lon “L.C.” Hampton had engaged in a razor-close competition for the right to succeed Steven Romero as UNM’s deep snapper. Though Hampton entered the program on scholarship, EnRico won the job.
On Saturday, when UNM opens the season at home against Abilene Christian, he’ll be snapping to senior Corey Bojorquez, who will double as UNM’s punter and as the holder for kicker Jason Sanders’ field-goal and point-after attempts.
Last year’s battery — Romero to holder Sam Gentry to Sanders’ educated toe — was virtually flawless. Sanders was 12-of-13 on field goals and 61-of-62 on PATs. The missed PAT was blocked.
Sanders said he’s confident after months of work that, though the names in front of him have changed, the results will not.
“It’s a bit of a change, but it’s not a change for the worse,” he said. “I think we’re all consistently as good as we were last year.”
After last year’s success, Davie said, Sanders probably is UNM’s top NFL prospect.
Bojorquez could be a NFL prospect as well, Davie said. Last year, his first at UNM after transferring from Cerritos (Calif.) College, he averaged 42.2 yards per attempt.
His 80-yarder at Colorado State last fall is the stuff of legend, but Davie would like to see more consistency.
“He certainly has that kind of leg strength,” Davie said. “And he’s improved. … He’s come a long way.”
Bojorquez said he’s been more consistent during the offseason than last year — “Way more consistent. Placement’s been a lot better, more turnover, hang time, everything.”
Talk of the NFL and postseason honors, Sanders said, won’t alter the focus that made him so successful last fall.
“If I’m not focused on what I’m doing now, what’s going to happen in the future?” he said. “If I’m not focused, I might not make that kick.”
EnRico, meanwhile, is looking at a future dramatically changed by Wednesday’s announcement.
“I had to pay, I think, like 11 grand this semester, and I was talking with my dad, trying to figure out how we were gonna take care of that. … (The scholarship) is definitely a blessing.”
THE DEPARTED: Davie had little to say about the departure of senior cornerback Jadon Boatright and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jonathan Brys.
The two players, he said, opted not to come back after the team’s 4½-day break from preseason practice (Aug. 16-20).
“Both decided they didn’t want to be part of the team anymore,” Davie said.
Brys said he wanted to be closer to his home in Jackson, Mich., Davie said.
Of Boatright, he said, “I’m not expanding (on his comments). It’s his decision.”