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Tuitele leaving UNM, will coach OL at Army

Saga Tuitele, left, was retained from the previous staff by new UNM head football coach Danny Gonzales. But he is leaving for Army. (JimThompson/Journal file)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Head coach Danny Gonzales, in his quest to rebuild the University of New Mexico football program, will not have any holdovers from the previous staff.

That’s because Saga Tuitele, who had been UNM’s offensive line coach the past four seasons, is leaving the Lobos to become the offensive line coach for Army, Gonzales confirmed on Tuesday.

Tuitele was the lone assistant from last year’s staff that remained after Gonzales announced his coaching staff on Jan. 10. That was also when it was learned Jason Lenzmeier, a former UNM offensive lineman, would be the Lobos’ offensive line coach.

Tutiele, who was also the run game coordinator for UNM, was the Lobos’ acting head coach for two games (a 66-14 loss to Notre Dame and a 55-52 win over New Mexico State) while then-coach Bob Davie recovered from a serious medical incident in the 2019 season-opening 39-31 win over Sam Houston State.

In 2016, Tuitele’s first season with the Lobos, UNM led the nation in rushing yards, rushing yards per game and rushing yards per carry.

Army went 5-8 last year.

Gonzales will now look to fill two spots on offense and one on defense for his coaching staff. He continues to finalize positions for the offensive assistants.

Derek Warehime, named the offensive coordinator on Jan. 10, will coach the tight ends. Jordan Somerville is coaching the wide receivers.

Lenzmeier, originally from Frisco, Texas, coached the Lobo offensive line from 2012-15, and had an earlier three-year stint with UNM 2006-08, serving as a graduate assistant in 2006.

The Lobos ranked fifth in the nation (in 2012), fourth (in 2013), fifth (in 2014) and ninth (in 2015) in rushing yards per game.

RECRUITING: UNM has picked up three commitments – safety/linebacker Quinn Potts, and offensive linemen Ben Davis and Isaak Gutierrez – as Gonzales and his staff continue to recruit with the approach of the regular signing period, which begins Feb. 5.

UNM did not sign any recruits during the early signing period.

Potts, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., is listed as a three-star recruit by ESPN. He also played running back at Dominguez. Potts announced his commitment via Twitter on Friday.

Davis is a graduate transfer from Minnesota and Gutierrez is a transfer from Butte Community College in Oroville, Calif.

Davis, a 6-4, 275-pound guard, was among a handful of recruits who visited UNM this past weekend.

“When I came to UNM they embraced my family as my own,” said Davis, 21, who lives in Elk Grove, Calif., near Sacramento.

“Coach Gonzales, being from Albuquerque, you can tell he really wants to build the program into a winning program for the community.”

Davis earned an undergraduate degree in sociology of law, criminology and deviance at Minnesota. He said he wants to be a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and is impressed with the global and national security program at UNM. He played one season at American River College. At Minnesota, he played mostly special teams in 2018, and saw action in two games in 2019. The Golden Gophers went 11-2, 7-2 in the Big 10 last season, capping it with a 31-24 win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

Gutierrez, a 6-2, 315-pound guard, played one season at Butte College. UNM recruited two players from Butte last year, quarterback Brandt Hughes and wide receiver Jordan Kress.

OJ Bartley, a 6-2, 265-pound defensive lineman from Edison High in Stockton, California, announced his commitment on Jan. 13

UNM has 22 scholarships to fill for the upcoming season, Gonzales said. He is aiming toward having 20 signees on Feb. 5.

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