Umeh emerging as New Mexico’s go-to receiver - Albuquerque Journal

Umeh emerging as New Mexico’s go-to receiver

New Mexico’s Anselem Umeh, left, shown in the opener against Incarnate Word, is the team’s best route runner, according to coach Bob Davie.

Anselem Umeh said he is OK with fellow wide receivers Delane Hart-Johnson, Elijah Lilly and Jay Griffin IV making plays and attracting attention.

The New Mexico redshirt sophomore would rather go unnoticed. He can go to work and exploit a mismatch.

“I’m not too flashy with all the media stuff,” Umeh said after Wednesday’s practice. “I like being the guy that nobody knows about. Teams don’t have to double-team me. When teams start double-teaming D.J., Elijah Lilly and Jay Griffin, it leaves me open. All I have to do is beat my man and that’s what I expect to do each and every time.”

So much for the media stuff. For the second time within the past seven months, Umeh is featured in the Journal.

Back in March, the focus was on Umeh’s academic prowess (a 3.50 grade-point average as a nursing major) and his excitement to play in the Lobos’ new spread offense.

Well, Umeh has been productive while contributing in the Lobos’ run-pass-option attack.

UNM (3-3, 1-1 in Mountain West Conference) will need Umeh to continue his rise Saturday when the Lobos play host to highly regarded Fresno State (5-1, 2-0) at Dreamstyle Stadium.

“If you had to say who runs the best routes on our team I think the consensus would be that it is Anselem Umeh,” coach Bob Davie said. “He was polished when he got here. He has an advantage because he has done so much of this through high school (St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif.). This isn’t new for him. The change in offense plays right into his wheelhouse. He is a talented receiver, emerging as a go-to receiver because of the way he runs routes.”

Umeh, a 5-foot-11, 176-pound receiver, said he chose to play at UNM because the Lobos wanted him most and welcomed him with open arms. That was especially beneficial for him as his dream school, Washington, never came to fruition and 10 other offers closed because their rosters filled, he said. He was aware that the Lobos were run-heavy and a triple-option offense at the time, much different than the spread at St. John Bosco, where he played with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen during Umeh’s sophomore and junior seasons..

Umeh redshirted the 2016 season and last year he caught three passes for 59 yards. His first career catch went for a 14-yard touchdown against Boise State.

This year, he has already surpassed those numbers with 10 catches for 183 yards and one touchdown. He’s third on the team in receiving yards and fourth in catches.

In fact, he led the team in receiving yards (66 yards on two catches) last week in the Lobos’ 20-18 loss at Colorado State, where he also notched his longest gain that went for 52 yards.

“(Hart-Johnson and Lilly) are the top receivers; they get the ball a lot,” Umeh said. “I have to make the opportunity out of whichever target I get. When it is one-on-one, I try to tell (quarterback Sheriron Jones), ‘Give me the opportunity and I’ll try to make that play for you.’ I’m gaining more confidence and trust with him and our chemistry is growing.”

Umeh saw opportunities against Colorado State, as the Rams used a true freshman to defend him, Umeh said.

Umeh knows things will be different against Fresno State, which ranks in the top 10 in the nation in several categories, including No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing 13.5 points per game. The Bulldogs are 13½-point favorites against the Lobos.

“I played against these guys from Fresno State last year and they’re good corners,” Umeh said. “I’m happy to be able to compete with them again.”

Umeh and the Lobos will do their best to avoid last year’s result: Bulldogs 38, UNM 0 at Fresno State. It was the Bulldogs’ sixth straight win over the Lobos.

UNM enters Saturday’s game with the same record as last year, when the Bulldogs handed the Lobos the first of seven straight losses to end the season.

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