ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Madrid’s energy with scout team impresses Davie
There are the bonds Xavier Madrid has issued in his family’s business, and then there’s the bond he has with his chosen sport.
How many bail bondsmen are playing college football? Madrid might well be the only one.
But it was Madrid’s bond with his University of New Mexico teammates, and with UNM’s coaching staff, that so impressed Bob Davie.
On Valentine’s Day, Davie, the Lobos’ second-year head coach, assembled his team after an offseason conditioning session to make an announcement.
“I said, ‘I’m gonna keep this simple. Xavier Madrid is now a scholarship player at the University of New Mexico,’ ” Davie says.
“The players went crazy. (Madrid is) just a guy that has everyone’s respect.”
Davie had told Madrid earlier that he was hoping to put him on scholarship, so the junior running back from St. Pius wasn’t totally surprised.
But, he says, it was a moment he won’t forget.
“Everybody was hugging me and clapping and slapping me (on the back), throwing me around and all that,” he says. “So, it was cool. It was good energy.”
It was Madrid’s energy on the practice field that first caught the new head coach’s eye during last year’s spring workouts.
In the fall, though the walk-on running back never played in a game, Davie considered Madrid’s contributions invaluable.
“Every day, first of all on special teams on that scout squad, going 100 percent, full speed.” Davie says. “Every day (at scout-team running back), going against the defense full speed.
“Just the energy he brings.”
Davie was aware, as well, that Madrid was bringing that energy to the team on top of his schoolwork and hours put into his family’s bail-bond business — sometimes working the graveyard (10 p.m.-6 a.m.) shift.
“He’s one of those guys that I think makes the other guys realize, because of his story, how much they have to appreciate,” Davie says.
Madrid was an All-State and All-Metro running back at St. Pius, doubling as a cornerback. But his size — 5-foot-7 and, at the time about 160 pounds — limited his college football prospects.
He had offers from small colleges in New Mexico and one in Nebraska, but instead chose to come to UNM in the fall of 2010 as a preferred walk-on. “Preferred” status meant he did not have to try out.
He lost that status, however, and his spot on the team, when he fell behind academically.
“I missed the whole year because of that, and I had to walk back on and try out,” he says.
The tryout was successful, and then-head coach Mike Locksley reinstated Madrid to the squad. Now, Davie views that episode as one more thing Madrid has overcome in his desire to play college football.
“He just stayed at it, stayed at it,” Davie says. “… You love to reward a guy like that. I’m just glad we could do it.”
There’s a reward for Davie and his young UNM program, as well.
After a walk-on has been in the program for two years, that player can be awarded a scholarship that does not count against the yearly limit of 25 but counts toward the overall ceiling of 85, as prescribed by the NCAA.
Because of scholarship reductions imposed because of NCAA violations incurred by assistants to coach Rocky Long in 2008, and because of player attrition during Locksley’s tenure, UNM does not have 85 scholarship players. Madrid makes 78.
If Davie can give a scholarship to a contributing walk-on such as former Rio Rancho wide receiver Jeric Magnant — which he did last fall — or to Madrid, it’s a win-win situation.
“I love doing that,” Davie says. “That’s a no-brainer to me.”
It’s a process the coach plans to continue.
Last month, Davie and his staff conducted a “New Mexico Day,” to which he invited 50 New Mexico high school football seniors and their parents.
Some of those kids, he told them, could in time earn a scholarship as Magnant, and now Madrid, have done.
“That’s the perfect model,” Davie says.
Madrid, meanwhile, will focus on being a model citizen within the UNM program.
“I come in every day and take it as an opportunity to get better,” he says. “You have to do that to improve, and that’s what I did, working hard and always having a positive mindset.
“That’s what got me where I’m at.”
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal