The University of New Mexico’s game at UTEP on Saturday is a big one for Aaron Dumas.
But it’s not just because the freshman running back is returning home, where he made a name for himself at Americas High in El Paso. It’s because he’s seemingly on the verge of making a name for himself as well on the college football level.
“I haven’t broken out of my shell yet,” said Dumas, who has led the Lobos (2-1) in rushing in two of their three games. “I’ve been playing pretty consistent. Whatever the task is, I’ve just had to put my head down. I can’t really ask for a specific play call. It’s not my job. My job is to go out there, execute and make plays. … Eventually when I break the ice, I can start having some big rushing games. And, I’ll have my first touchdown. It’s going to happen eventually. I’m kind of sick of playing and not getting in the end zone.”
Perhaps, Dumas’ first collegiate touchdown will come against the Miners (2-1), who are allowing 111 yards rushing per game and five rushing touchdowns.
Dumas is yearning for his first college touchdown, but he’s no stranger to the end zone. In 26 varsity high school games, he rushed for 57 touchdowns. In every game, he rushed for more than 100 yards. As a junior he rushed for 3,184 yards with 36 touchdowns and was named Class 6A first-team All-State by the Associated Press.
“It’s definitely going to be a fun experience,” Dumas said of Saturday’s game against the Miners. “Playing in front of a home crowd and high school people I’ve been around before. It’s definitely an exciting experience. But at the end of the day it’s just another ballgame for me.”
UTEP was among the schools that recruited Dumas, though “they were my very last offer. … That’s really all I gotta say about that.”
Dumas got a head start with the Lobos, as he was an early high school graduate and practiced at UNM during the spring. He was determined to earn a contributing role in his freshman season, though he knows he already wants to be a playmaker.
“I think January till now, I’m really proud of him,” UNM coach Danny Gonzales said of Dumas. “He hits the hole downhill. He has a really low center of gravity. I thought the lights were a little bright on the first night. That’s expected from a true freshman. He’s adjusted pretty quick. I think we have a good 1-2 punch. … He’s made some great progress and I think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Dumas is second on the team in rushing with 164 yards rushing, just two yards behind senior Bobby Cole.
Dumas said preparation this week will be key for him to contribute and for the offense to get back on track after losing 34-0 at at No. 7-ranked Texas A&M last Saturday. Dumas had the Lobos’ longest play on offense, a 16-yard run, and he led the Lobos in rushing with 49 yards on 10 carries.
Dumas said he became more vocal than he had during previous games. He wanted the Lobos to believe they could contend against A&M just as any other team.
“He’s a leader, and I don’t know if he knows it, but guys look up to him and respect what he says,” said senior wide receiver Mannie Logan-Greene. “He came in here day one with the mentality of wanting to be great. He’s a very straightforward, very ‘about his business’ type of guy. Aaron is a hard worker. It’s just beautiful to see that he’s in his freshman year and he has 3-4 more years here.”
In high school, Dumas wore the jersey No. 22. He kept the same number at UNM, with the approval of coach Danny Gonzales, who knows the number carries great history.
That was the jersey number for former Lobo DonTrell Moore, UNM’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,973) and all-purpose yards (5,830). Moore holds the top two single-season all-purpose campaigns in 2003 (1,669 yards) and 2005 (1,599 yards).
Dumas said one of the reasons he chose to play at UNM was to build his legacy, and now he also wants to carry the legacy of the number. Another opportunity awaits in El Paso.