LAS CRUCES – Jason Huntley became the 30th New Mexico State football player in history to be drafted Saturday. The 5-foot-9, 193-pound running back from Arlington, Texas, went to the Detroit Lions with the 27th pick in the fifth round (No. 172 overall).
Huntley is the second Aggie to be selected in the NFL Draft in the last four years and first since wide receiver Jaleel Scott was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round in 2017.
“I was speechless,” Huntley said. “All my hard work just paid off and I’m just happy to be a Detroit Lion.”
Aggies coach Doug Martin reflected to the Las Cruces Sun-News on how Huntley sat behind star running back Larry Rose III at NMSU, “never complained and just worked harder and learned and took reps and opportunity when he got them. He’s a competitor when a lot of players will jump into the transfer portal when things don’t go well.”
Huntley is one of two running backs the Lions selected. Detroit picked Georgia running back D’Andre Swift in the second round. According to overthecap.com, the Lions’ fifth-round pick will make a salary of $697,174.
Prior to the draft, Huntley talked about his versatility serving as his greatest strength. The Lions coaching staff must have noticed, and its PR department tweeted that Huntley was “the only (draft-eligible running back) with 1,000 career receiving yards.”
This season past, Huntley’s 7.03 yards per rushing attempt were third most in the FBS, behind only Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr. with 7.94 and Clemson’s Travis Etienne with 7.80.
Huntley bolstered his stock when he ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day.
“A lot of guys are fast, and I consider myself fast, but he’s elite,” Rose III told the Sun-News. “I put him in the same caliber as (Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III, the Raiders’ first-round pick, 12th overall) and that’s not just because he’s my buddy.”
Huntley finished his career with five kickoff return touchdowns, rushed for 2,182 career yards and 18 TDs with 1,119 receiving yards and seven TDs on 134 receptions. Huntley had five career 100-yard rushing games and three 100-yard receiving games.
“He went from 150 pounds when he got here and 190 pounds when he left, so that tells you about his work ethic,” Martin said. “He was unselfish and played two positions because that is what was best for the team, and ultimately that is what helped him. He led us in tackles on the punt team. He was our right end. Stuff like that is what scouts see and focus on that a lot of fans don’t see.”