Day one of the University of New Mexico football team’s preseason camp proved intense and eventful, and featured, of all people, Lobos men’s basketball coach Paul Weir.
Yes, that’s right, Weir showed up to deliver an impromptu, heartfelt and encouraging speech to the UNM football players on Friday morning, telling them: “We got your back.”
Weir, who attended with his assistants Brandon Mason and Ralph Davis, said he did not know he was going to speak to the team. Perhaps, that’s what made it more meaningful.
He told the players to pay no mind to people that attempt to separate fan bases of Lobo hoops and UNM football. He also reminded the Lobos, in “colorful” language, to block out the noise and the people who think another losing season is coming.
“(Weir) and I talk pretty frequently,” UNM football coach Bob Davie said. “We talked last night at 9:30. He and I kind of understand a lot of things. We kind of have a common purpose and some common problems, some common things. I’ve really come to enjoy him. It was good to have him out here and give him the opportunity to speak to our team. I think our team appreciated it as well.”
During the football offseason, Davie attended several UNM men’s basketball home games, as did many of his football players.
UNM senior quarterback Sheriron Jones said it was “very important” for Weir to be at the football practice and to speak to a huddled group of determined players preparing for an opener against Sam Houston State on Aug. 31 at Dreamstyle Stadium.
“We want to be a community-based place,” Jones said. “That means tennis is gonna come out, basketball is gonna come out to show their support, just like how we showed our support for them when their season was going on. To have the head men’s basketball coach come out, it was something special.”
For what it’s worth, Jones did take the first snap during the opening offensive drill as he begins his quest to win the quarterback job against three others. However, UNM’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Dailey reminded the media not to read anything into that, saying, “I wouldn’t go there.”
Tevaka Tuioti, a redshirt sophomore quarterback, missed Friday’s practice as he is in California with his family because his grandfather has a health issue, Davie said. Tuioti is viewed as the favorite to become the Lobos’ starter as he won the job last summer before a shoulder injury ended his season after he had missed a game due to a concussion.
“All of a sudden with Tevaka not here today you look back out there and Sheriron is much improved, should be much improved,” Davie said. “Trae Hall is now a redshirt freshman instead of a true freshman. And, Brandt Hughes is a junior college guy. But it still looks thin all of a sudden with one of those four guys not here, and you look up and kind of say, ‘Oh no here we go again.’ We do have some depth. We do have some experience with Sheriron and Trae. But so much of this kind of rides on Tevaka being back here and Tevaka being 100 percent as well.”
Jones, who started seven games last year, gave the offense some pop at times last season, but struggled with consistency. He led the Lobos with 1,417 yards passing and 13 touchdowns, as he was a 54.5-percent passer, completing 102 of his 187 attempts with 12 interceptions. He was second on the team in rushing with 286 yards.
Jones, who began his college career at Tennessee before transferring to UNM from Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) Community College, described the way he feels about his chances to become the Lobos’ starter as, “off the charts.”
“I’m doing everything I can on and off the field,” Jones said. “Just making a statement to my coaches that this is my last year. I want to give it all that I got. In past years I gave it all I got. This is a little bit more special to me. This is my fifth year. I want to make sure they know I’m all-in to this program.”