Aug. 31, 2009
What: Lobos at Texas A&M
When: 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 5
Radio: 770 KKOB-AM. TV: None
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobo ghost no longer is lost and semi-forgotten in the shadows that come with injury and inactivity. Instead, senior Donovan Porterie is front and center, healthy and able, under the spotlight and under the center.
The once and future University of New Mexico starting quarterback is back in the spot he feels to be his rightful place on this Lobo team -- as Mike Locksley's No. 1 quarterback.
Well, at least Porterie is pretty sure he's Locksley's leader in the huddle. Porterie said that nobody on the UNM coaching staff actually has told him that he'll get the start come Saturday at Texas A&M.
But Porterie did hear it from some pretty reliable sources: some UNM students hanging out in a hallway near a classroom.
"I wasn't really told (by Locksley) that I was the starter," said Porterie. "A couple of people at school told me. I was walking in a hallway and five or six people were right there and told me.
"Then when I went to get some lunch, some more people told me. He (Locksley) still hasn't told me, but I got a lot of reps today."
It's a nice and deserved change for Porterie, who sat out most of the 2008 season with a bum knee and slipped into the gray zone that swallows up the football wounded.
"You kind of become a ghost in the locker room," said Porterie. "When you are hurt, when you aren't putting up any numbers or making plays for them to win games on Saturday, you become like a ghost. It really sucked a lot. I just tried to bust my butt as hard as I could every day."
Porterie's goal was an obvious one: win back the huddle. It wasn't easy because of the talent also chasing that huddle: Gruner and Holbrook. But it's also not surprising that Porterie won the race to impress Locksley, offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey, and quarterbacks coach Tee Martin. Porterie is smart, athletic, strong-armed and quick of foot.
"Donovan has a great football IQ," said Martin. "He has experience and he has shown the willingness to be a leader. I think he has a good chance to be comfortable in a big game in a tough setting."
No doubt, Porterie and the young Lobos will be thrown into the fire Saturday in College Station. The A&M Aggies have one of the top home-field advantages in the nation in Kyle Field, which seats 83,002. The Lobos will need a lot of pure execution out of Porterie, but they'll also need to look up at a leader.
One of the more impressive strides Porterie showed in preseason camp came in the leadership category.
"The locker room is behind him. They believe in him. They feel and share his confidence," said Martin. "The way he has come out here and won the team over has been impressive."
Porterie said getting his teammates to look up to him for senior leadership in the huddle didn't come easy. Actually, it took a lot of hard work. His teammates watched how hard Porterie worked on his knee rehab. They saw how important it was for him to recapture the pocket he once owned.
"Donovan has something to prove," said Martin. "When you have a chip on your shoulder, sometimes you work a little harder."
And sometimes you work a little harder when you are coming off knee surgery.
"I wanted to show them (teammates) I would lift just as hard as they lift, squat just as hard as they squat," said Porterie. "I wanted to show the guys that when it's hot outside, I'm going to still go 110 percent in full pads.
"I'm a competitor and a I'm a warrior, but one of the things I most believe is that I'm a winner. I'm blessed to be out here. I'm thankful for the chance to lead my guys on Saturday."
Porterie will enter his fourth season as the UNM starter. The 6-foot-3 senior fell out of the 2008 season in Game 4 against Tulsa. The Lobos were down 28-0 just before halftime when Porterie was injured after tossing a screen pass.
"I'm a competitor and a I'm a warrior, but one of the things I most believe is that I'm a winner."
Lobo Senior Quarterback Donovan Porterie
"I'm just out there to get the ball into a playmaker's hands," said Porterie. "We have a lot of guys who are ready to get the ball and know what to do with it when they get it.
"But we can't just show up at Texas A&M and expect good things to happen. We have to go out and execute. If we do that, then good things should happen."
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