April 14, 2012
First-year University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie experienced the highs and lows of running the Lobo program during Saturday's spring practice at University Stadium.
Spring practice No. 9 included 150 high school coaches across New Mexico in attendance for the Lobo Football Coaches Clinic, as well as more than 400 more from families for the Lobo Football Youth Experience.
The day was UNM's effort to give a glimpse into what the program is about under Davie. The coaching staff is starting to build relationships with high school coaches to show how important kids in the state are to the program. And the Lobo coaches and players just wanted to give the kids - from kindergarten through eighth grade - a new appreciation for the game of football.
"It was just a great turnout," Davie said of both events. "This is just the first step in getting to know (the high school coaches) and letting them get to know us and building a relationship.
"The kids get a chance to be around our players. They get to see what college football is, what Lobo football is trying to develop. Ask those kids what our record is the last three years. They'd have no idea, and that's the way it should be. It kind of made me forget how many things we have to work on for practice."
The team opened Saturday's practice with a lot of energy, being in the stadium for the first time. The defense seemed to have the upper hand early in drills, but the offense picked it up later on.
Senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook completed all five of his pass attempts during full-team situational practice. Senior wide receivers Ty Kirk and Lamaar Thomas both caught a pair of long passes as Holbrook squeezed the ball just past the outstretched hands of covering defenders.
"We tried to go out there early and play with a good tempo," Davie said. "We just get tired. It's hard; we really can't practice the way we need to in this situation. Because of our limited numbers, we can't scrimmage as much as we'd like to; we don't have as much competition at every position as we'd like to have. It's a little frustrating that we can't let it rip - it's not that we're not having contact and all that stuff, we just run out of gas.
"I don't like to practice in the stadium. That's where you play your games. We're not ready to go inside that stadium."
Still, the day was positive for the Lobos in setting themselves up for the future - in getting to know the high school coaches.
You can't put a price tag on what it does as far as (public relations) is concerned," said offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse, who organized the coaches clinic. "We're a little bit overwhelmed with the turnout, to be honest with you. We're thrilled to death. We didn't know what to expect but this has exceeded our expectations. The good thing is we're headed toward the end of the day and we've received nothing but positive, positive feedback. Hopefully we can build from it."
The high school coaches said the Lobo coaching staff gave them good reason to feel positive.
"Coach Davie and his staff coming in and being able to reach out to coaches in New Mexico is a huge, huge thing," La Cueva High School coach Ed Lucero said. "From day one since they arrived, they've reached out to high school coaches and players. It's a huge difference from the last few years. I think that enthusiasm is going to go a long way."
Sandia coach Kevin Barker said he thought the discipline alone with which the Lobo staff instructed should help the team win more games. But it was the way the Lobo staff interacted with the high school coaches that impressed him most.
"(Lobo Offensive line coach Jason) Lenzmeier helped us with things we're going to implement next year," Barker said. "I was impressed with their openness. I'm very excited that they're going to come and recruit our kids. It's always good to have kids play for UNM and see them and say that's one of mine."
LOBO FOOTBALL YOUTH EXPERIENCE BRINGS SMILES AND LAUGHTER TO KIDS AND LOBOS
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
There was laughter. There were smiles and bodies flying all over the grass. And the little kids had a good time, too.
"This is fun for us, too," said Lobo tight end Lucas Reed referring to Saturday's Lobo Football Youth Experience held in University Stadium. "A couple of kids fell on me and I had to get out of the way," continued the 6-foot-6 senior through a wide grin. "I didn't want any broken bones."
Said UNM long snapper Evan Jacobsen: "The kids are having a blast. Just look at the smiles on their faces."
The Youth Experience was held during and after New Mexico's open practice Saturday. The event in the stadium began with the Lobo players lining up to form a tunnel of hand slaps as the young campers ran from the Tow Diehm football complex and onto the stadium grass.
Probably, a few Lobo arms got heavy. There were a lot of kids at this event.
"It's good to give back," said Lobo Rod Davis, a 300-pound defensive lineman. "For us to be out here and to coach the kids and be around them is a good thing for everybody.
"These kids might see us around, see us in stores, but they never really get to hang around and talk to us. This one-on-one action is a lot of fun for everyone. have nieces and nephews back home (Houston), but kids are kids and it's like these kids are my nieces and nephews."
"When you do something for someone else, you feel better about yourself. That's how it works."
Lobo Coach Bob Davie
Said Lobo Darryl Johnson, a 6-4 offensive tackle: "It's nice that we can do this and give back to the community and the kids. You always have fun when there are kids around. These kids and their parents will put in a good word to other people about how they came here and had a good time and were treated well. That helps build the Lobo family."
The Youth Experience campers went from station to station learning various aspects of football and this was real coaching. The Lobo players and the Lobo coaches did the kids right.
"I learned a lot," said one eight-year-old camper. "The tackling was the best part."
"These guys are big," said another camper when asked what most impressed him about the Lobos.
"It's great to get these kids out here and get them excited about football, especially Lobo football," said Lobo Justus Adams, a product of La Cueva High.
"We can use all the fans we can get and if we can get kids excited about the game and the Lobos, then they will want their parents to take them to a game."
Said Jacobsen: "I used to go to camps like this back home in Southern California. It's fun to give back and be part of it. These kids will grow up around here and they will look back on this experience and remember it in a special way. Kids grow up to be fans. This is a major point for our program.
"I remember when I was young meeting Carson Palmer and thinking, "Dear God, this guy is seven feet tall.' I feel great being that guy now and helping out the kids."
Palmer, a quarterback for the USC Trojans and the Oakland Raiders, actually was almost 7-feet. He stood 6-foot-6. Jacobsen is only 6-1, but a lot of Youth Experience campers were looking way up to Jacobsen and a lot of other Lobos - in more ways than one.