Aug. 2, 2004
Wide ReceiversThe biggest changes in the UNM offense this season will be seen in the wide receiver and tight end corps, where the Lobos lost three starters and seven veteran lettermen from 2003. Among the list of the departed is a 32-game starter in tight end Bryan Penley along with Dwight Counter and Adrian Boyd, who combined for 72 catches, 1,357 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. "We lost a lot of firepower at wide receiver due to graduation and we have to fill the hole left at tight end," said Long. "We've got some quality guys, but that group is going to have to improve before the season starts." Fortunately, the Lobos have a promising wide receiver to build around in junior Hank Baskett, who was third on the team last year with 17 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns. A dedicated player on the practice field and on gameday, the 6-4, 215-pound Baskett is a big target and a real threat in the red zone. Also a three-time all-MWC high jumper and a former standout hurdler at Clovis (N.M.) High School, Baskett is deceptively fast and athletic in the open field. After a preseason injury slowed him in his first collegiate season, Baskett made major strides last fall and, coming off an outstanding spring, appears poised for a stellar 2004 campaign. "Hank continues to get better and he's going to have to be a key guy in our offense," said Long. "We expect him to continue his improvement and we also expect some real help out of some freshmen and JC transfers to make that group as good as it was last year. We've got several guys in the program now who need to continue to improve what they do, but all of them are good athletes who will have a chance to prove they can play." Among the returnees are redshirt freshmen Marcus Smith and Major Mosley. Smith, who began his UNM career at running back, was a pleasant surprise during the spring. An athletic 6-3, 202 pounds, Smith proved to be a dangerous deep threat during the spring and should have a bright future as he improves his technique and consistency. Mosley also displayed excellent potential during his redshirt season before suffering a knee injury, which kept him out of contact drills during the spring. Another big, athletic target at 6-3, 215 pounds, Mosley made a big impression in the weight room, despite his knee injury, and could emerge as a solid player for the Lobos in 2004. A pair of veteran scout team receivers in senior Mart'n Romero and junior Mike Powdrell will also have a chance to break into the rotation. Romero (5-11, 194), a former running back, found a home at wide receiver last year, appearing in two games and displaying good quickness and solid hands in practice. Powdrell (5-10, 185), meanwhile, brings excellent athleticism to the group and could vie for time this fall.
"We also expect some real help out of some freshmen and JC transfers to make that (wide receivers) group as good as it was last year. We've got several guys in the program now who need to continue to improve what they do, but all of them are good athletes who will have a chance to prove they can play."
-Head coach Rocky Long
The wildcard in the mix could be senior Curtis Flakes, a converted cornerback who finished the spring atop the depth chart opposite Baskett. A hard-worker and tenacious presence on the field, Flakes' spring performance was reminiscent of former starter Adrian Boyd, who moved from tailback to wideout as a junior. Like Boyd, Flakes established himself as both a rushing and receiving threat, particularly on screen plays and running in the Lobos' fly-motion package. Chris Brawley was the only one of the Lobos' three junior college transfer wide receivers to participate in spring practice. As is expected of newcomers, the 6-3, 213-pounder was a little raw, but displayed real potential and should find a home in the receiver rotation with continued improvement. Another transfer in the hard-working Anthony Carter (6-0, 190) could also make an impact this fall.