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UNM football notes: No players have opted out, Gonzales says

University of New Mexico football coach Danny Gonzales has yet to see Tyson Dyer punt in a live situation, because the Lobos’ star punter was recovering from hip surgery during the eight spring practices the team got in before the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

But based on game film, Gonzales says that Dyer is “very deserving” to be on the Ray Guy Award Watch List that was released on Wednesday. Dyer, the lone Ray Guy Award semifinalist from the Mountain West Conference in 2019, is one of 19 punters nationally named to the preseason watch list.

“Tyson can flip the field,” said Gonzales, who was a punter and defensive back for the Lobos. “He can really change the dynamics of a game. He can change momentum. I think he will progress during the season and stay within that group because he has a very powerful leg. He can place the ball deep. He’s very consistent.”

Dyer, a 28-year-old from Australia, is 100 percent healthy and ready when the Lobos transition to preseason camp starting on July 31, Gonzales said.

Dyer, who owns the longest punt in UNM history with an 84-yard boot as a sophomore in 2018, is ranked second in program history in career punting average at 45.08 yards. Current Buffalo Bills punter Corey Bojorquez averaged 45.15 over his two seasons at UNM.

PRESEASON ALL-MWC: Even though Dyer is on the Ray Guy Award Watch List and offensive lineman Teton Saltes is on the Outland Trophy Watch List, they did not appear on the Mountain West Preseason All-Conference Team. No Lobos made the 28-member team named Wednesday and voted on by media that cover league teams.

San Diego State junior defensive lineman Keshawn Banks, the former Rio Rancho High standout, earned the preseason honor.

“It’s a preseason team; it doesn’t matter,” said Gonzales, who recruited Banks to SDSU when Gonzales was an assistant for the Aztecs. “The all-conference team at the end of the season is all that matters.”

PLAYERS’ CHOICE: Gonzales is fully aware the Lobos are going through an unprecedented offseason. With that, the UNM first-year head coach is giving them the choice to play.

“If they don’t want to play because of COVID, they won’t lose their scholarship,” Gonzales said. “No one has taken us up on that. They want to be a part of what we’re trying to do. They’re working hard. There are some things that are out of their control that they’re handling very well.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter Tuesday to the leadership of UNM and New Mexico State strongly urging both to suspend contact sports this fall. Gonzales would not comment on the letter. But he has said recently that he will continue to prepare for the season until he’s told he cannot.

He said the players wear face coverings throughout current workouts, but they can remove them briefly and at a distance from others if they are struggling with breathing.

Gonzales acknowledged that workout schedules have been challenging. The players are required to show up two minutes prior to their scheduled workout with their collective group. They can’t show up earlier than that because Gonzales doesn’t want there to be large groups congregating.

“My whole career has been about being early,” he said. “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be forgotten. It’s crushing me that we have to be on such a tight schedule. A couple of times, I’ve kicked guys out of the workout because they don’t show up on time to my standard. Two minutes is two minutes. If you’re expected to be here two minutes before and that’s the new standard, be here. We had a little bit of that early. They’ve been good since. They’re doing what we’re asking them to do. It’s not easy.”

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