March 29, 2005
The University of New Mexico football officially began the 2005 spring practice season yesterday with a spirited 90-minute workout at the UNM practice fields south of University Stadium. The Lobos' will hold 15 practices over the next month, culminating in the annual Cherry-Silver spring game on Saturday, April 23.
Several compelling position battles on both sides of the ball will take place this spring, including:
Wide Receiver Senior Hank Baskett could be one of the top talents in the Mountain West this year, but the rest of the receiving corps is eager to step up and prove themselves after an up-and-down 2004 campaign. Seniors Anthony Carter and Chris Brawley should be much improved in their second year of Division I competition, while sophomores Travis Brown and Marcus Smith have shown tremendous potential. Senior Daniel Ramirez moved over from tailback, while Aaron Brack shifted from cornerback to help spark the unit. Working in a more wide-open offense, New Mexico's wide receivers will have ample opportunity to increase their role this spring and become legitimate threats on game day next fall.
Tailback With senior DonTrell Moore out until August recovering from a knee injury and D.D. Cox graduated, the UNM coaching staff will be looking for the next generation of Lobo tailbacks to emerge. Senior fullback Adrian Byrd has shown the ability to handle the rushing load if needed, while powerful sophomore Rodney Ferguson displayed flashes of greatness in his rookie season last year. Redshirt freshman Paul Baker and sophomore Martelius Epps, a converted defensive back, could also emerge as solid contributors this spring. Both players could provide a more shifty and elusive presence in the backfield in contrast to the bruising Byrd and Ferguson.
Linebacker New Mexico's 3-4 scheme is back this year, giving the production and depth of the linebacker corps added significance. The Lobo defense will face a real challenge in replacing Nick Speegle, Fola Fashola and Chrishone Harris, but the talent in the group could be among the best in the Mountain West. Senior linebacker Mike Mohoric is the lone returning starter and is a strong all-conference candidate. However, junior Quincy Black, sophomore Cody Kase, senior Joe Selander and sophomore Michael Tuohy, a freshman All-American at defensive end last year, are expected to give New Mexico a tremendous linebacker rotation. Redshirt junior Yimin Bauman, redshirt freshman Herbert Felder, sophomore George Carter and junior Justin Clayton could all vie for time as well with a strong spring season.
Safety The UNM safeties could be perhaps the deepest and strongest group on the team this year with as many as nine talented players battling for time. Senior Charles Brown is the lone returning starter, while sophomore Tyson Ditmore will open the spring as the replacement for standout Josh Bazinet. The battle for the starting job will be fierce, however, with senior Ken West and redshirt freshmen Jake Bowe, Blake Ligon and DeAndre Wright all in the mix. Vaunted junior transfer Aleem Harris will also push for the starting job, along with fellow juco transfers Darvin Peterson and Othellus Swift.
Kicker New Mexico faces the unenviable task of replacing one of the top kickers in school history in Wes Zunker. After watching Zunker win two games for the Lobos last year, every UNM kicker is aware of how critical their performance can be to the success of the team. Junior Kenny Byrd gained a tremendous amount of experience as a first-year football player in 2002 and has quietly made significant improvement on his leg strength over the past two years. Redshirt junior Garth Archibald, however, worked his way up the depth chart last fall and will compete for the first string role this season. While strength and accuracy will be prized, the coaching staff will be looking for the winner to display some of the mental fortitude and toughness that Zunker exemplified throughout his career.
All practices are tentatively scheduled from 3 - 5 p.m. each day on the UNM practice fields, though the times and dates are subject to change at any time. The Cherry-Silver Game is slated to begin at 4 p.m. at University Stadium. All practices are open to the public. No photography or video recording is allowed without approval from the UNM media relations department. Contact Alfredo Moreno at 505/925-5524 for any photography or video requests. Numerical practice rosters will be available for download in PDF format after the first week of spring practice.
2005 Spring Practice ScheduleMonday, March 28 - 3:30 - 5 p.m. (helmets/shorts)
Tuesday, March 29 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shorts)
Thursday, March 31 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Saturday, April 2 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (full pads)
Monday, April 4 - 3:30 - 5 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Tuesday, April 5 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shorts)
Thursday, April 7 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Saturday, April 9 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (full pads)
Monday, April 11- 3:30 - 5 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Tuesday, April 12 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shorts)
Thursday, April 14 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Saturday, April 16 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Tuesday, April 19 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shorts)
Thursday, April 21 - 2:45 - 4:45 p.m. (helmets/shoulder pads/shorts)
Saturday, April 23 - Cherry-Silver Game - 4 p.m.