For decades, if not centuries, getting up pretty early in the morning has been touted as a way to outwork, outsmart and generally outperform an adversary.
This football season, the New Mexico Lobos will be testing that theory.
Monday, on the first day of the fall semester at UNM, the Lobos practiced in the morning and attended classes in the afternoon. They will do so, coach Bob Davie said, the rest of the season.
In past years, under a succession of head coaches, UNM has practiced in the late afternoon once classes had begun.
The switch, Davie said after Monday’s workout, simply makes sense.
“The first piece,” he said, “is we have a split campus. We have a north campus (academics) and we have a south campus (athletics).”
In previous years, players would report to the south campus in the morning for meetings, weight training, etc., move to the north campus for classes, then return to the south campus for practice.
The change to morning practices saves a step. Players will arrive at the athletic complex at 6:45 a.m., attend meetings, have breakfast, practice, lift weights, have lunch, then leave for classes – done with football for the day.
“I like it a lot,” said senior center LaMar Bratton. “… You come in early, you get your work done, and all you have to do is worry about class later. We’re not sitting in the classroom (thinking) ‘Dang, I wonder what practice is gonna be like’ the whole time.
“I think it’s just great to get our work done and just have the rest of the day to ourselves.”
The NCAA’s new rule that allows schools to provide “unlimited” meals, Davie said, is another reason morning practices make sense.
In the past, schools were allowed to provide players only one training-table meal. In the UNM football program, that always has been dinner.
“We’re able to feed them breakfast now, make sure everyone eats breakfast,” Davie said. “We’re able to feed them lunch now, make sure everybody eats lunch.
“We have a little bit more time to sit there and really eat as a family, where guys aren’t running off to study hall, running off to class like they were in the evening.”
STRONG FEELINGS: The Lobos returned from Ruidoso on Friday to be greeted by a brand new weight room.
Sorinex, a South Carolina company that has designed and installed weight-training facilities for professional teams, colleges, high schools and military complexes, completed UNM’s at a total cost of about $800,000.
Senior safety David Guthrie, who in the spring was named the team’s “Hard Hat” champion for his devotion and performance in strength and conditioning, won’t have his first session in the new facility until today.
He can hardly wait.
“There’s a ton of technology in there,” Guthrie said.
In addition to weight stations – bench press, squat, etc. – the facility includes a strip of turf that can be used for practicing 40-yard dash starts or for pushing prowlers (a weighted sled; don’t try this at home).
“There’s a lot of stuff in there that’s awesome,” Guthrie said. “Everything’s new, so I’m excited to go in there.”
Davie said Ben Hilgart, UNM’s director of athletic performance, oversaw the project from start to finish.
“It’s classy, it’s efficient, it’s not over the top with all kinds of bells and whistles,” Davie said. “We don’t need that.
“I think it shows the detail we have in our offseason and in our strength program, and it’s a reflection of Ben Hilgart.”
THEN THERE WERE 25: Taylor Timmons, a 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive lineman from Tampa, Fla., by way of New Mexico Military Institute, has enrolled at UNM and is eligible this fall after clearing some academic hurdles.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been around a guy that’s worked as hard academically to get everything in line so he could be here,” Davie said of Timmons.
“He’s here, and the only thing. … It looks like he ate a little bit, stress-related, trying to get those academics. He’s a little bit heavy right now, but it’s good to have him here.”
Timmons’ presence means UNM has a complete recruiting class of 25. The Lobos signed 27 players in February, but Sandia linebacker Camrron Bean and Valley wide receiver Aaron Molina didn’t qualify academically and are headed for junior colleges.
The only other change has been the signing of freshman running back Diquon Woodhouse to a scholarship vacated by junior-college running back Jakari Johnson.
Timmons, a 2012 high school graduate, is a junior. He has a redshirt year available if needed.