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Rio Rancho state champion hero Bynum signs with CSU Pueblo

RIO RANCHO — The author of New Mexico’s highest-profile goal during the most recent boys soccer season took the next natural step on Tuesday.

Lamar Bynum (Journal)

Rio Rancho High forward Lamar Bynum signed his national letter of intent with Division II Colorado State-Pueblo’s Thunderwolves.

Bynum, a member of the New Mexico United Academy team, scored the game-winning — and only — goal in the Class 5A state final in April against Albuquerque High as the Rams won their first title in boys soccer.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of given talent there, but I think he’s got a huge upside,” Rio Rancho coach John Shepard said. “I always tell people, and Lamar doesn’t like to hear this, but he’s a good high school player — but he’s going to be a great college player.”

Bynum, who turns 18 next month, had 10 goals and five assists in 12 games during Rio Rancho’s championship season.

He balanced his high school duties with training and playing for NMU’s Academy, where he is a sometimes starter.

But he won’t complete the year with NMU, peeling off in early August to go to Colorado.

“When I went up for my visit, it just felt like a family right from the beginning,” said Bynum. “Good atmosphere, love the coaching staff, and the players made me feel welcome right from the jump. And it’s a place I can go in and succeed.”

Cal Davis and Purdue Fort Wayne were among the other schools recruiting the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Bynum.

Between his game-winner against AHS, his participation with the NMU Academy and Tuesday’s signing, Bynum has had much to celebrate in the first half of 2021.

“A year ago, when COVID first hit, I didn’t know if I would have a chance to play at the next level,” he said. “But I couldn’t be more happy.”

Shepard said Bynum still has room to add 15-20 pounds to his frame without sacrificing any speed. But Shepard foresees great things for his four-year starter with the Rams.

“He still hasn’t played enough high-level games to understand the high level,” Shepard said. “But he will, because he’s a fast learner. I think he’ll progress into a much better player than he already is. He hasn’t even scratched his potential.”

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