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Trip home to be a thrill for pair of Lobo football players

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Earlier this week, New Mexico football coach Bob Davie told freshmen Lawrence “L.O.” Johnson and Blake Fehrmann his intention to take them back home on the Lobos’ trip to play against Wisconsin.

On Tuesday morning, Davie confirmed that the two Wisconsin boys would be on Friday’s flight to Madison, where underdog UNM takes on the No. 5 Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m. (Mountain time).

“It’s exciting to go back home and see my family,” said Johnson, a running back from Waunakee. “Waunakee is like 15 minutes max from the stadium. I got a whole bunch of friends and coaches coming to the game.”

New Mexico running back Lawrence “L.O.” Johnson, a native of Waunakee, Wis., gets in some leg work during a weightlifting session Wednesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Davie is caught up in game-planning and wanting his team to improve from last week, but he was pleased to accommodate Johnson and Fehrmann.

“It was a great feeling to see those guys genuinely happy about getting the opportunity to go back,” Davie said after Wednesday’s practice. “They didn’t take it for granted, which means a lot to me. Neither one will play in the game. They’re going because it’s home and family will be there.”

Johnson and Fehrmann were Badger fans as children and attended games with their respective families. Chances are they were at the same games.

Now they are on the same team, one facing the Badgers.

They both were recruited by defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove, said Johnson, who also runs sprints on the UNM men’s track and field team.

Cosgrove coached at Wisconsin for 14 seasons, the final eight as defensive coordinator.

Fehrmann, a soft-spoken linebacker from Brookfield, is also thrilled to be going home.

“Growing up, everybody in Wisconsin is a Badger fan; it’s like being a Packer fan,” Fehrmann said. “I’m really excited to see family and friends. I have a ton of friends that go to the college and it’s going to be great to see my family at the game. I was always a big Badger fan and my dad would take me to games.”

Davie said Saturday’s game is also a homecoming of sorts for Illinois natives Stephen Ruiz, a kicker from Naperville, Marcus Hayes, a safety from Rockford, and Rhashaun Epting, a linebacker from Chicago.

Alex Hart, the senior Lobo linebacker and two-time team captain, is also going to be close to where he’s from, Prior Lake, Minn.

If any of the Lobos want to get insight on what Camp Randall is like, however, they can ask Johnson or Fehrmann.

“It gets really loud,” said Johnson, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a bone bruise. “The third quarter with ‘Jump Around’ is very exciting. Everyone takes part in that. The away team. The home team. It’s probably one of the liveliest atmospheres in college football.”

Even though Johnson and Fehrmann are not slated to play they are plenty aware of the atmosphere around the Lobos’ practices in preparation for their game against the highly touted Badgers.

“Everybody is confident,” Johnson said. “One thing coach always talks about is bend, but never break. We’ll blink but never flinch at this opponent. We gotta get better individually.”