Oct. 21, 2009
What: UNLV at Lobos
When/Where: 6:06 p.m., Saturday, University Stadium
Radio: 770 KKOB-AM, Lobo Radio Network
TV: The Mtn (Comcast 276, DirecTV 616)
Online: GameTracker; game story on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If you are an aficionado of Stephen King horror movies, you might remember a conversation by two boys (Stand By Me) discussing who would win a battle between Superman and Mighty Mouse.
In a way, that storyline will take place Saturday at University Stadium when the UNLV Rebels throw their tough and rugged 6-foot-2 Superman receiver, Ryan Wolfe, at the tough and rugged mites in the Lobo secondary.
In the movie, it was conceded that Superman would win because he is real. Wolfe definitely is real: an All-American candidate with 259 career receptions, who should end his career as the Mountain West's top receiver and a top NFL draft pick.
Lobo Anthony Hooks is one of the mites (5-11, 175 pounds) in the University of New Mexico secondary out to prove that he and the Lobos have the "real" stuff in 2009.
Part of the proving will be stuffing Wolfe on Saturday.
"He's good," said Hooks. "He has great hands and knows how to use his body to get between a defender and the ball. They actually have a bunch of good receivers. It`s a challenge."
Hooks is pretty good, too, and getting better. He probably was thrown into action a bit before he was ready in 2008. Senior DeAndre Wright went down with an injury and Hooks, a walk-on freshman, was next in line.
The game was against UNLV. The Rebs won 27-20.
"I made a few mistakes, but I wasn`t nervous going out there," said Hooks of his first-ever start as a Lobo. "It just came down to playing football and I`ve been doing that since I was five."
Hooks might have been thrown into the fire as a freshman at Vegas, but he might have been thrown into the fire as a 5-year-old, too. "I was playing illegally," he said. "I was too young to be out there. You had to be six. But you couldn`t keep me off the field."
The Lobos are having trouble keeping Hooks off the field, too. He has speed and good instincts. The Lobo Mighty Mouse is getting bigger, too. He has put on about 20 pounds since his high school days at Brophy College prep school in Phoenix .
As a Lobo, he has 23 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He also is one of those young Lobos who is improving as the season wears on and he adjusts to the new defensive schemes.
The Lobos might be a bit lucky to have Hooks. His size turned a few D-I heads away from his obvious talents and a few schools chasing Hooks backed off late in the recruiting process. He looked around for a school to "walk-on" and New Mexico had some perks.
It was close to Phoenix and it had a history of producing NFL-type defensive backs. Hooks is moving in that NFL-type direction. He has the family roots. His father, Anthony Sr., was a defensive back at UTEP from 1988-93. Hooks also has the right mentality. He likes contact.
"I love to hit," he said. "I like to cover, too, but hitting is always the best. A lot of people think I look like a wide receiver, but I've always played defense because I would much rather deliver a blow than take one."
Hooks will be out to deliver blows -- and cover -- come Saturday. It won't be an easy chore because the Rebs average 269 passing yards a game and have three top receivers in Phillip Payne (45 for 463 yards), Michael Johnson (24 for 321 yards) -- and that Superman named Wolfe.
Wolfe has 3,274 career receiving yards and has the most career catches of any active player in NCAA ball. He owns the UNLV receiving records. His longest catch ever, 75 yards, came against Lobos. He had seven grabs for 100 yards vs. UNM last year.
Of course, when Hooks looks at Wolfe he won`t be seeing any "S" on the Rebs` chest. He`ll be seeing No. 88. That number will be one of Hook's targets. Mighty Mouse is coming at Superman.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner