Sept. 28, 2010
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
You could say Lobo safety Bubba Forrest really had no choice but to be a football player - "brainwashed as a child," as dad says.
And this has nothing to do with dad pulling Bubba off a soccer field long ago and pointing his son toward a destiny of helmets and pads.
First, Bubba had to deal with the natural call of geography that works its way into the hearts of most strong boys growing up in Southeast New Mexico. The seed that sprouted from Bubba's boyhood dirt in Carlsbad, N.M., his call of geography, was real and padded and 100 yards long.
For Bubba, there was another factor. It was the tug of family roots that almost insisted that if you were a Forrest, you put on the pads and looked for somebody to hit.
If the Forrest family tree has an ornament on top, that decoration is a football helmet.
Bubba's grandfather and twin brother played for the UTEP Miners, the program that comes to University Stadium on Saturday looking to knock down the Lobos.
Bubba's father played at UNM as did two uncles, including Mike Forrest, one of the top UNM linebackers ever and the Lobos' leading tackler in 1978-79.
"If you are a Forrest, you are brainwashed as a child to love football," said Bubba's father, Richard. "There really isn't much choice."
The brainwashing began with the family tree. The process included days and nights spent in front of a TV watching college and NFL games. There also was the lure of a Southeast New Mexico town with a Texas-like football mentality.
Of course, someone had to first direct Bubba to a football field. Naturally, it was dad who did the pointing.
"I was in the second grade and getting ready for soccer practice," said Bubba, whose full name is Richard John Forrest III. "My dad said, `You aren't going to soccer today. We're going to sign you up for flag football.'
"If you are a Forrest, you are brainwashed as a child to love football. There really isn't much choice."
Bubba Forrest's father, Richard.
The itch in Bubba wasn't really a full-scale, out-of-control rash until something was taken away and something was added - the flag and the pads.
"Once I put on the pads, that pretty much became my passion," said Bubba, the Lobos' leading tackler so far in 2010 with 35 - 14 tackles better than any other Lobo.
Bubba excelled at Carlsbad High: lettering in basketball, baseball and football, setting a Cavemen career mark with 268 tackles. He was All-Everything, made the honor roll, type of kid who wouldn't say "mud" if he had a mouth full of it.
The only question about Bubba was whether he had the speed to play in the secondary at the D-I level.
Former Lobo coach, Rocky Long, had no doubt. He signed Bubba in August of his senior year to keep the hard-hitting Caveman away from New Mexico State Aggies and UTEP Miners.
That was just fine with Bubba. "What sold me on New Mexico was seeing how good the New Mexico guys in front of me were doing: Kole McKamey (Artesia), DonTrell Moore (Roswell), Hank Baskett (Clovis)," said Bubba. "And Brian Urlacher (Lovington) opened a big path for us."
Forrest is carving his own path at UNM. In 2010, he tops the UNM defensive charts with 17 unassisted tackles and is No. 1 in assists at 18. Forrest gets to the ball.
His Carlsbad roots date back to the 1940s when his great grandfather started up a tire business. In those days, a dealer had to get a license from the government in order to sell rubber. Bubba's great grandfather got the license, but was told he had to leave Albuquerque and push his rubber in either Clovis or Carlsbad.
"He literally flipped a coin and it was Carlsbad," said Bubba.
When it came to football, Bubba played both sides of the ball, but never needed to flip a coin about which side he liked the best. He liked the hitting side.
"I love to hit," said Bubba. "On offense, you have set plays and you have to go here or go there. On defense, you have the freedom to fly to the ball."
On Saturday, that's exactly what Bubba plans to do. Fly to the ball. Knock down a few Miners. And maybe help the Lobos get their first win of the year.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribne. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.