Aug. 12, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The New Mexico secondary returns a handful of players with experience but youth remains a constant. Junior Anthony Hooks is the only returning starter for Associate Head Coach George Barlow in the secondary. Although junior Bubba Forrest, sophomore Emmanuel McPhearson and sophomore DeShawn Mills all have experience, only time will tell how this unit will improve during the 2010 season. Coach Barlow gives us an inside look at his position group.
How is the secondary looking this fall?
"At this point during camp the secondary is progressing very well. We have a lot of guys returning and some talented newcomers. The returners have gone through a fall and spring with coach (Doug) Mallory and feel pretty comfortable with the system. They are comfortable enough that they are putting themselves in good position and getting their hands on a lot of balls. We are making improvements but we still have a ways to go."
Could you see improvements from the players after summer workouts?
"Definitely! Most of the guys were around all summer and you can see their improvements. It has also helped with their comfort level with the system. Working with coach (Troy) Hatton and adding the freshmen into the mix, we have upgraded our athleticism of the secondary as a whole."
Who has surprised you during camp?
"Anthony Hooks has really looked good to this point. He progressed a lot last fall and really got better in the spring. He stands out pretty well.
"One of the biggest surprises for me is sophomore DeShawn Mills. Mills has done a great job and will be pushing for a starting spot. He has gotten more physical, he is a lot more aggressive and he has put himself in position to make a lot of plays.
"Sophomore Freddy Young is another kid who has improved dramatically. He has matured and the summer has helped him get stronger and faster.
"Bubba Forrest is coming back and has experience. Now that Bubba is back, he is probably playing better than when he went down last year.
"Ravonne Carter as a true freshman has done some good things."
How much does competition play a factor during camp?
"Competition has made camp a lot of fun and increased the intensity. When you have competition it makes everyone better. When we hit the field everybody knows someone is pushing for their spot. Players have a tendency to be more coachable when someone is right behind them. The competition really helps these guys improve."
How does this training camp compare to the last?
"The atmosphere is a lot better. Nobody knew what to expect last year including the coaches and the players. This year it's clear what is expected from everyone. This summer everyone knew how hard they were going to work with coach Hatton and that has carried over to the fall. Everybody is comfortable."
What are the goals for the secondary during camp?
"Our ultimate goal is to get much better technique wise and get our hands on a lot more balls. In order to be a good defensive team you have to get to the ball and last year we didn't. We need to be more aggressive and try to create turnovers."
How are sophomores A.J. Butler and Carmeiris Stewart doing since switching to defense in the spring?
"Those two guys have helped us from day one. They came over as offensive guys but they are true football players. When they switched over in the spring, they immediately brought an intensity level with them. They have come a long way since the spring. A lot of people thought we were making the switch to add depth but those guys have a chance to play. Right now, those two guys are pushing our starters for playing time. They have been great additions."