Feb. 3, 2010
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It is a Lobo recruiting class that wows you on paper, wowed a lot of observers and fans in high school, wowed national scouting services, and should soon wow Lobo fans in University Stadium.
Lobo coach Mike Locksley's second recruiting class at UNM is loaded with speed, size and talent, but it also has a headliner in Calvin Smith, a four-star, smash-mouth defensive tackle who was wooed by top-shelf teams from across the country.
Smith probably shocked a nation of viewers on ESPNU Wednesday when he told America that his No. 1 choice was New Mexico.
You could say that Smith's decision broke a few hearts at Alabama, Florida State and Tennessee - a few decent programs that managed to claw their way to the top of Smith's list and become also-rans to Locksley's program at New Mexico.
Smith was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com and ESPN.com and probably could have gone to just about any football program in the nation. He said he decided to be a Lobo because of coach Locksley.
"He is strong, explosive and has star potential," said Locksley. "He has the skills and the strength to contribute right away for us."
In a way, Smith is the prototype of the young men Locksley and his staff searched the nation trying to lure to New Mexico. The Lobos searched for superb athletes, who exhibited the speed and quickness at their positions to excel in major college football.
Smith is that type, but Locksley's 2010 class is loaded with that type of athlete. Locksley said his top priority was to beef up his line, especially on offense, and to rebuild his defensive backfield with speed and talent.
The Lobos have signed 19 players and there is a good chance UNM will find one more talented body for its remaining scholarship. The NCAA allows a football program to sign 25 players, but the Lobos are limited to 20 offers because of NCAA rules broken by the previous UNM staff.
UNM's recruiting breakdown by position looks like this:
-- Defensive backs (4): Julian Blair, Ravonne Carter, James Grace, Devonta Tabannah.
-- O-linemen (4): LaMar Bratton, Earl Johnson, Omar Castillo, Justin Robbins.
-- Receivers (3): Martize Barr, Josh Ford, Lamaar Thomas.
-- D-linemen (2): Calvin Smith, J.J. Hugine.
-- Linebackers (2): Toby Ball, Zach Daugherty.
-- Quarterbacks (2): Tarean Austin, Stump Godfrey.
-- Tight end (1): Brad Miller.
-- Athlete (1): Detchauz Wray.
One mild surprise was the signing of two highly-regarded quarterbacks. Austin was listed among the country's highest rated arms. He broke a few hearts at Iowa State, Michigan State and Purdue.
Godfrey was the Player of The Year in Texas. Check out his 2009 senior stats: 3,581 passing yards and 42 touchdowns against six interceptions. He also ran for 848 yards and 22 TDs. The confidence of Godfrey was shown when he decided he wanted to come and play for Locksley even though UNM already had a commitment from Austin.
The talent of these two young freshmen arms will make the race for the Lobo huddle an exciting sidebar to the 2010 season. "Our goal was to take one quarterback," said Locksley. "But you learn in the recruiting process that you never turn down a great player. When a player like Stump says he wants to come play for you, you grab him up."
Obviously, Locksley and his staff were grabbing at O-linemen and landed some keepers in Bratton, Johnson, Robbins and Castillo, a transfer from Texas Tech. The defensive secondary was fattened, but not slowed, by the addition of four speedsters: -- Blair, Carter, Grace and Tabannah.
Smith obviously is the prize catch. The talented Smith will be joined by Hugine, a three-sport athlete, who has the quickness and explosiveness to develop into a fearsome pass rusher. "He can really run," said Locksley.
The Lobos might not need immediate help at the linebacker spots, but UNM signed two quality backers in Ball and Daugherty. Ball is a 234-pound hammer out of Wylie Texas and was rated as a three-star prospect. Daugherty comes from Onate High in Las Cruces, N.M. and also had a three-star rating. UNM plucked Daugherty from under the noses of the NMSU Aggies.
"Anytime you can get the best players in the state, it's a great catch," said Locksley.
The Lobos won out over Boise State for the services of tight end Brad Miller, a three-star prospect. The Lobos also added Detchauz Wray to the roster. Locksley listed the multi-talented Wray simply as an "athlete," because the Lobos haven't yet decided on which side of the ball to put Wray's skills.
Wray threw for a career 6,643 yards and a career 81 TDs. He had offers from Nebraska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas and Colorado State.
The Lobos still have a scholarship to give and might fill that void with another transfer like Robbins in an attempt to throw some experience onto the roster. Locksley said he is still looking at linemen and defensive backs.
The NCAA allows a program to offer 25 scholarships during a signing period The NCAA sanctions against the Lobos gave Locksley 20 scholarship in 2009, 20 rides in 2010 and 21 scholarships in 2011. That's a possible 14 Lobos lost. That's a starting offense and a defensive backfield.
Locksley had to pass on several players who could have helped him rebuild the UNM program. Still, the talent Locksley and his staff brought in are of "wow" caliber and did what UNM hoped for.
"We met our needs," said Locksley.
Locksley said a key to bringing in such high-level talent to UNM was the state, the community and his current Lobos.
"Our team is the best ambassadors of our program," said Locksley. "And every kid who got off the airplane to visit our campus was blown away by what we have to offer her. You can recruit to New Mexico. If we can get them out to Albuquerque, it's an easy sell."
Yep, you can recruit to New Mexico. Just ask the viewers of ESPNU. Just ask some of those broken hearts in Alabama, Tennessee, Florida.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.