Feb. 4, 2004
Rocky Long: "We started in the recruiting process slow. We spent a lot of time in December at junior colleges trying to fill some holes at wide receiver and defensive line. At the junior colleges we found some other players that we liked, so we ended up signing them to. Other than the New Mexico Kids that we have been recruiting since May, we got to the high school kids late. It was a bit of a struggle recruiting the high school kids. In fact, we ended up picking up four kids this last weekend. I think the junior college kids will really help us out next year and even more the year after. There aren't a lot of linemen in the group of high school kids, but a lot of skill, and all are multi-position players. There is a lot of flexibility for these players to fit in the program where needed."
Question: Can you talk about the New Mexico players that you signed and where you see them fitting into the program?
RL:"We are going to start Matt Quillen at fullback. That doesn't mean he might not play linebacker for us down the road, but we recruited him as a fullback. Jake Bowe we recruited as an overall athlete, obviously, but he will start out as safety. Rodney Ferguson we recruited as a running back, but if you watched Manzano High School play, he played strong safety and is pretty good at that too. Tyson Ditmore from Las Cruces, he's the same way. He played some running back, some wide receiver and he played safety on defense. We are probably going to start him off at safety, but there is no telling where he might end up. The seven kids we thought could play in the state of New Mexico, we've been recruiting them since they were juniors. We offered them all (scholarships) as juniors. One of them we offered as a freshman. We spend more time with them, and we do it for a longer amount of time. We always run into guys who want to get way from home, but we recruit them just as hard no matter what city they are from in the state. We hope we get all of them, but that hasn't been the case yet. Someday that will be the case. Someday they'll be embarrassed to leave the state."
Q: Can you evaluate the junior college receivers?
RL: "You can only go off what you see on film, but they all have very good size and had outstanding junior college careers. Chris Brawley didn't play on a team that wanted to throw it a lot, but every time they did, they threw it to him. He's big and strong, and uses his body well to block defenders from getting to the ball, and we're looking for guys like that. Kenneth Shelton has all the big plays in his past. He's the one who takes balls 70, 80 yards after he catches five-yard slants and he's a pretty good return guy. Anthony Carter is guy we recruited two years ago, committed, but never got the required test score, so he went to a JC in Arizona and now he's coming back. He played on a team that didn't throw a lot either...but he can play a lot of different places too."
Q: Do you have so many JC players because you are trying to fill immediate needs, or maybe you didn't get the high school players you needed?
RL: "No, we signed JC kids because we had immediate needs at wide receiver and defensive line. So we hit junior colleges hard and once we got in there we found some other players in that position that we really liked, not necessarily because we were in need, but we liked how they played and thought that they would fit into our scheme."
Q: How has the level of talent of the New Mexico high school players developed?
RL: "It goes year to year. I think this year was the best year in the state, according to our evaluation, for what we thought were Division I football players in the state. We actually offered to seven kids in the state of New Mexico and ended up getting four."
Q: Are you happy over the last few years on the job your staff has done on recruiting?
RL: "For our program, our assistant coaches have done a great job of evaluating talent for us. The percentage of guys that we have recruited that have ended up being good football players is as good as I have ever been around, and a lot of them are not highly recruited guys. Several of these guys that were not highly recruited made all conference last year, so our coaches have done a great job of evaluation."
Q: Has your approach to recruiting changed over the last years?
RL: "The first two years we were trying to convince anyone to come here. The last few years we have been more selective about the character of our recruits. We want people who want to be here."
Q: How do you feel about the junior college defensive linemen you signed?
RL: "Adam Garday is not extremely big or tall, but he's very active and goes 100 miles an hour all the time. We love the energy he plays with and he's really strong at the point of attack. The other two guys (Donald Paul and Freddie McGowen) are great athletes, they run well and are good size. Donald Paul is like D.J. Renteria and McGowen is like Daniel Kegler. They have roughly the same body type and are the same kind of athlete."