April 20, 2012
As the shorthanded University of New Mexico football team nears the end of spring practice, the play of a handful of Lobos has coach Bob Davie walking on sunshine.
After conducting the 12th of 15 spring practices with a session Friday night, Davie singled out a group of non-scholarship players who have made significant contributions on the field.
I’ve been really pleased with some of our walk-ons,” Davie said. “On offense, I think about a guy like David Vega, who came here on Roswell (by way of New Mexico Military Institute) not on scholarship, doing some things for us at quarterback. I think about Jeric Magnant (from Rio Rancho High School), a wide receiver – he’s having a really good camp. He started off really strong, leveled off a little bit but had a good night tonight. I mentioned Xavier Madrid (St. Pius X) the other night. He’s a tailback, walk-on.
“Then on defense, Tim Foley (Rio Rancho), if we’d play right now, he’s probably our starting cornerback. Tim Foley’s had an excellent spring practice. I’ve got no reservations putting Tim Foley out on that field. Adam Mitchell (Cibola High School) is an outside linebacker who hasn’t played that position a lot but he’s been outstanding.”
Davie explained that the program likely will require three years to get up to the full allotment of 85 scholarships that Football Bowl Subdivision programs can have – with the ability to sign an NCAA-mandated 25 per year.
“Moving forward, walk-ons are going to be a key to this program,” he said. “So I’m encouraged that we have guys that are going to have key roles in this program.”
The Lobos did some full-team “thud” work Friday night – practicing at full speed with defenders tagging the ball-carrier, rather than tackling – and both sides had its moments. Wide receiver Quintell Solomon twice broke open in the secondary, taking a pass from freshman quarterback Cole Gautsche 70 yards to the end zone on the second of the two plays.
Running back Jhurrell Pressley took a handoff up the middle and broke it to the outside for a long gain a few plays later.
After the TD pass and the big running play, offensive coaches still had instruction for Gautsche and Pressley on how to improve what they did on each play.
Wide receiver Daniel Adams starred on special teams with a pancake block (putting an attacker on his back) during a punt coverage/blocking drill.
Davie had said Wednesday night he felt that particular practice was the team’s first of the spring in that the staff finally was comfortable with the players it identified as having roles next season. He was asked Friday whether he wished he had more than three practices left.
“I told the players the other night that we got a call from the NCAA and they gave us 10 more practices,” Davie said, facetiously. “They called it the ‘Pity Rule;’ they read where it said we were ranked 120th (by the Orlando Sentinel). I think (the players) thought I was serious when I said it and were relieved when I said it wasn’t true.
“But quite honestly, we’re getting about to the point where we’ve probably pushed them about as far as we can push them.”
UNM will practice Saturday afternoon without pads and conclude spring with practices on Monday and Wednesday night.