The Journal’s Sports Speak Up! column is a country unto itself, a land of extremes.
On Speak Up!, the battle has raged. University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie refuses to recruit in-state players, goes one side of the argument. Hey, says the other side, there are no more Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision prospects in the state than there are banana plantations. So, leave Bob alone.
Both arguments ignore the facts.
The facts are these:
As of this writing, eight New Mexicans are known to have accepted or been tendered scholarship offers from FBS schools during the current recruiting year.
Davie and UNM, at one point or another, have offered scholarships to all eight.
Three of those – Las Cruces quarterback Kameron Miller, Cleveland quarterback Gabe Ortega and Cleveland wide receiver Marcus Williams – have committed to UNM.
Cleveland offensive lineman Henry Hattis has committed to Stanford. Rio Rancho offensive lineman Grant Hermanns and Valley defensive lineman Teton Saltes are sorting through multiple offers, several of those from Power 5 conference programs. New Mexico has offered scholarships to all three.
Former Cibola defensive lineman Desmond Branch and former Valley wide receiver Aaron Molina signed letters of intent with UNM in 2014.
Molina didn’t qualify academically and spent the last two years at an Arizona junior college. Davie once again offered him a scholarship last August; Molina also has an offer from Utah State and thus far is uncommitted.
Branch spent the 2014 season at UNM as a redshirt, left the program for reasons of his own and played last season at a Texas junior college. He has signed with Georgia Tech.
Other Speak Up! contributors, or perhaps the same ones, wonder why UNM didn’t pursue any of the half-dozen New Mexico kids who have committed to former Lobo defensive coordinator Jeff Mills’ second-year program at New Mexico Highlands. Is it possible that UNM – and, for that matter, NMSU – have overlooked one or more FBS prospects within our borders? Perhaps. But if so, it’s an honest mistake. Neither the Lobos nor the Aggies can afford to ignore an FBS-quality player on their front porch.
Since 2012, Davie’s first season, only four New Mexico high school players – La Cueva defensive lineman Calvin Allen (Arizona), Cleveland tight end Sterling Napier (UTEP), Mayfield quarterback Kavika Johnson (UTEP) and Eldorado quarterback Zach Gentry (Michigan) have gone out of state on scholarship to an FBS school. The Lobos offered scholarships to Allen and Gentry, but not to Johnson or Napier.
MARKEL BYRD: Neither forgotten nor gone – at least, not in the hearts and minds of his teammates and coaches – former Lobos safety Markel Byrd will be remembered Sunday at the UNM Student Union Ballroom.
Byrd, 20, was killed on Dec. 22 in a one-car crash on Interstate 40 in eastern Arizona.
Sunday’s event, described as a Celebration of Life, is scheduled for 2 p.m. It is open to the public.
Byrd’s locker in UNM’s Tow Diehm Athletics Facility has been converted into a memorial.
PRESSLEY IN ACTION: Former Lobos running back Jhurell Pressley will display his talents today in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, scheduled for 4 p.m. at the StubHub Center in Carson., Calif. The all-star game will be telecast on ESPN2.
He’ll play on Team American, coached by former Packers and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.
Pressley, who averaged a school-record 6.9 yards per carry during his UNM career, has been on site all week, practicing and interviewing with NFL talent evaluators.
JOSEPH COMMITS: Emmanuel Joseph, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound defensive end from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, announced on Twitter that he has committed to play for UNM.
Joseph had scholarship offers from San Diego State and UNLV. According to MaxPreps, he had 51 tackles and six sacks for Hamilton in 2015.