\New Mexico football coach Bob Davie said he’s been on the recruiting trail of Cleveland High’s Dion Hunter for such a long time that it feels like, “we watched him forever,” the eighth-year Lobo coach said during a Facebook live segment Wednesday.
The long pursuit of Hunter finally came to an end and it ended just the way Davie wanted. The Storm’s 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker, named all-metro by the Journal and all-state by USA Today, was one of seven football players UNM announced as its newest Lobos to close out National Letter of Intent signing day. UNM signed 18 during the early signing period.
Davie said he offered a scholarship to Hunter in the summer. Hunter, who did not return text messages on Wednesday, told the Journal on Saturday that he was undecided on his college of choice.
“Dion is an interesting guy,” Davie said. “He’s in wrestling right now and doing well. He’s a good, young prospect. He’s been around us a lot.”
It’s been said that defense wins championships. Davie is just hoping that defense can help turn around his team, as 15 of the 25 players added through recruitment are on defense. In addition, Brandon Burton, who sat out last season because he transferred in from UCLA, could also play linebacker.
Hunter is one of five linebackers who recently signed with UNM and the only one who was announced on Wednesday. There are 19 players from junior colleges joining the Lobos, and 13 are already enrolled at UNM, including 6-3, 253-pound defensive lineman Joey Noble (Fullerton College in California) and 5-8, 160-pound wide receiver Emmanuel Logan-Greene (Iowa Central Community College).
Noble, who recorded 12 sacks and 18.5 tackles for losses for the Hornets, was named the National Central Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Logan-Greene started his college career at Central Florida and before that prepped at renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Ben Gansallo, a 6-2, 280-pound defensive lineman from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, Elmer Pauni, a 6-3, 285-pound defensive lineman from Mt. San Antonio College in California, and 5-11, 191-pound safety Letayveon Beaton from Hutchison Community College in Kansas also joined the Lobos.
Justin Spates, a 6-4, 271-pound offensive lineman from College of the Canyons in California, was one of two offensive players announced Wednesday.
Davie said a clear “reboot” is needed on defense. He recently shook things up, promoting Jordan Peterson to defensive coordinator to replace Kevin Cosgrove, who remains on the staff as the linebackers coach. Peterson, 31, coached the safeties and was the defensive pass game coordinator last season.
The Lobos allowed 36.17 points per game and 473 yards per game last season. But they also recorded 22 turnovers (13 fumble recoveries, nine interceptions).
UNM also lost two of its best defensive players to transfer, as safety Marcus Hayes (Kansas State), who led the nation in punt return average, and outside linebacker Rhashaun Epting (Tennessee State), who led the Lobos with 5.5 sacks, left the program this offseason.
Davie said UNM was not necessarily seeking tall players, but athletes with quickness, explosiveness and great change of direction.
He was speaking specifically about the defense, that will welcome the return of linebacker Alex Hart and defensive end Trent Sellers, who both suffered season-ending injuries last season.
(Click here to see UNM’s list of signees.)