Gabe Ortega, a safety who starred at quarterback for Cleveland High, will become a graduate transfer and leave the University of New Mexico football team, he said on Twitter on Sunday night.
Ortega, who was a redshirt as a freshman, is set to graduate from UNM this spring. He will be a graduate transfer so he doesn’t have to sit out a year.
Ortega, who quarterbacked the Storm to a 13-0 season in 2015, becomes the fourth Lobo and fourth defensive player to leave UNM this offseason.
“I am very blessed to have played this game as long as I have through the grace of God,” Ortega said on Twitter. “Thank you to the University of New Meixco for believing in my abilities and making my dreams of playing college football come true. Redshirting as a freshman and graduating in three years has opened up opportunities in my my life that I want to take advantage of.”
Earlier this offseason, Marcus Hayes, a safety who led the nation in punt return average, transferred to Kansas State. Rhashaun Epting, an outside linebacker who led the Lobos with 5½ sacks, left UNM for Tennessee State.
Blake Fehrmann, a linebacker who was a redshirt last season for the Lobos, transferred to Illinois State, an FCS program.
The Lobos recently added 15 players on defense out of their 25-player recruiting class. In addition, Brandon Burton, a linebacker, will join the Lobos after sitting out last year because he transferred in from UCLA. Ortega’s departure frees up a scholarship spot.
UNM coach Bob Davie recently made changes on defense, promoting Jordan Peterson to become its defensive coordinator, replacing Kevin Cosgrove, who remains on staff as the linebackers coach.