Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal
Danny Gonzales will say it – this wasn’t exactly the plan.
It wasn’t in 2020 when he stepped into his role as New Mexico football’s head coach, with gradual player development his central focus. Nor was it just a little over a year ago, when the Lobos added 22 new players through the transfer portal.
But things change. Plans get altered. And, now more than ever, rosters flip.
“I say it all the time: if you wanna be a good coach, you get good players,” Gonzales said.
In that vein, New Mexico announced 13 additional transfers on Wednesday afternoon to bring their total haul up to 18 after the 45-day fall transfer portal window closed on Jan. 18. All transfers have enrolled at UNM for the spring semester and will be eligible to participate in spring practice.
Including both the transfers and 11 initial recruits, the Lobos’ 2023 class currently sits at 28 players. Gonzales indicated four to six more players would be added on National Signing Day (Feb. 1) with a willingness to use the 15-day transfer window in May to address potential needs discovered during spring practice.
With prior seasons in mind, Gonzales admitted they’ve embraced a “drastic” change in roster construction but expressed excitement for the effect these new additions could have on the program.
“We’ve adjusted our model to be able to have more kids that can compete right now instead of developing them over a four-year period,” he said. “I said at the very beginning that we’re going to get to a conference championship and you might have to deviate and adjust along the way.
“Well, we made a big adjustment.”
A pair of former four-star recruits and safeties in Bryson Washington (Oklahoma) and D’Arco Perkins-McAllister (TCU) headline the new portal additions. Washington appeared in 16 games over two seasons for the Sooners while Perkins-McAllister played 20 games throughout two seasons with the Horned Frogs.
The Lobos added two more TCU transfers with wide receiver Caleb Medford and safety Marvin Covington. Gonzales cited relationships with former TCU head coach (and one-time New Mexico assistant) Gary Patterson, current TCU head coach Sonny Dykes and TCU special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl for helping facilitate three additions from the national runner-ups.
“That’s the biggest thing with the transfer portal that gets scary,” Gonzales said. “You’re recruiting kids that you don’t get to build a relationship with as long because they may not be in the transfer portal (that long). But when they come with people that you trust, it’s a big (help).”
The Lobos added another Power 5 transfer on defense with defensive lineman/defensive end Gabriel Lopez (Washington State) and a Group of 5 transfer with wide receiver Ryan Davis (UAB). Davis is set to be reunited with Dylan Hopkins, his former quarterback with UAB.
New Mexico also picked up a unique prospect in tight end Magnus Geers (Temple). A native of Zurich, Switzerland, Geers is the first recorded Swiss born player at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. He initially learned to play the game by watching YouTube videos.
“Thank god for things like FaceTime audio where you can talk overseas without it costing you money,” Gonzales said of Geers’ recruitment.
The Lobos brought in seven players from the JUCO ranks, with four on the defensive side of the ball and three on the offensive side. Linebacker Mihalis Santorineos (Sierra College), safety Aaron Smith (Mt. San Antonio College), defensive lineman Hunter Rapolla (Mt. San Jacinto College) and linebacker Dimitri Johnson (Santa Rosa Junior College) will serve to bolster their respective position groups in their first FBS seasons.
Offensively, former Cleveland High School standout and 2018 Gatorade New Mexico Football Player of the Year Dorian Lewis (Coffeyville Community College) will look to carve out a role in his hometown college’s backfield while wide receiver DJ Washington (Iowa Central Community College) provides another receiving option for a team looking to take shots down the field.
Gonzales also clarified that any players who entered the transfer portal out of New Mexico at the conclusion of the 2022 season will not be returning.
The Lobos, coming off a 2-10 season, will start spring practice on Feb. 14.
2023 NSD Release – January by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd