STEVENS: Donovan Porterie a Symbol of Lobos' United Core
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/20/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 20, 2009

Saturday: Lobos vs. Colorado State, 4 p.m. University Stadium
Radio: 770-AM KKOB; Lobo Radio Network
TV: The Mtn (Comcast 276, DirecTV 616)
Online: GameTracker, stats, game story on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

If you try to delve into this gutsy group of New Mexico seniors and pluck out a single Lobo who deserves victory Saturday more than another, it becomes an impossible chore.

This band of Lobo seniors is more than deserving of victory as a group because of how they have endured defeat, how they have faced criticism, how they have braved adversity - both as a team and as individuals.

No doubt, losing is tough, but often you learn more about yourself from a stumble than you do a climb. It's not much fun to finish second, but there are life lessons in defeat that can never be found in winning.

When you fall, you come face-to-face with your core values. You find out if you got what it takes to regain your feet, stick your chin to the sky, and try once again to deliver your best.

You either rise with character, or you do not, because if the character wasn't there when you fell - you probably never had it to begin with.

The 2009 Lobos and the 17 seniors have stumbled in an area in which athletes and teams are judged. These Lobos are winless. If they don't beat Colorado State on Saturday, the odds say they'll remain winless because their final game is at beyond-good TCU.

That's tough record for an athlete to swallow. Like senior Erik Cook said: "You don't want to be remembered as part of a Lobo team that didn't win a game."

Sure, there are some that will judge these Lobos solely by their final record. There will be some that will look at them the same whether they are 0-12 or 1-11.

There are other who will recognize that the traits these Lobos will carry with them into the next stage of life would be no stronger, would be no more deeply instilled in their core, if they were 12-0.


"I'm going to be a Lobo at heart for the rest of my life."

You don't have to be a champion to be a winner. You don't have to hold a trophy over your head to have honor. You don't even have to win a game to reap the lifelong benefits that come through athletics, through teamwork, through honest effort and commitment.

Still, winning is fun and you can't help but hope these 2009 Lobos find that elusive victory Saturday against a Colorado State Rams team that surely has a bunch of athletes deserving of victory, too.

In dissecting those Lobo seniors, there are so many who have given New Mexico so much over the years - the blood, sweat and tears thing is really not a cliché when it comes to athletics and caring about school and teammates.

"They've been through quite a lot this year to show Lobo pride and represent this great state," said Lobo coach Mike Locksley. "I challenge our fans to come out and send these guys out the right way."

The fans that come Saturday will be showing payback to New Mexico kids, who came to UNM to do their thing to take their state team to another level: Frankie Baca, Ian Clark, Erik Cook, Danny Martin, Clint McPeek, Adam Miller.

The fans also will be supporting Lobos who came to New Mexico from out-of-state and learned to love being a Lobo: Kendall Briscoe, Roland Bruno, Ben Contreras DeAndre Davis, Tray Hardaway, Ivan Hernandez, Victor James, Daryl Jones, Joshua Taufalele, Frankie Solomon and a quarterback named Donovan Porterie.

OK, we led into something in that above paragraph. While it is difficult, and maybe even unfair, to single out an individual Lobo on Senior Day, you have to feel for any Lobo who had to quarterback a team in such a difficult season.

The nature of the position brings quarterbacks praise and criticism that doesn't always come in equitable doses. It's been that way for Porterie, who like all of these Lobos has stood against the odds and the media/fan barbs that come in a winless season.

"You don't really pay much attention to (the criticism)," said Porterie. "I just try to work hard to get better and put myself into a better position to help my team because that's all you can really do.

"I'm going to be a Lobo at heart for the rest of my life."

As a QB, Porterie has made some mistakes. He has thrown seven interceptions this season. He had led his team into the end zone and he has failed to lead his team into the end zone.

But he has never failed with that "honest effort" thing and he has never failed to feel great pain and responsibility for the end results on the scoreboard.

There probably was no Lobo on the field last week against BYU feeling more pain than Porterie, when his final, desperate scramble came up short.

It hasn't been easy being a Lobo quarterback for the past five years. UNM changes offensive philosophies the way some people change their socks. Porterie is in his fourth offense as a Lobo.

If Porterie has complained, it wasn't heard in this corner. His attitude to win and lead has been exemplary. His stats aren't bad either.

Porterie came back from season-ending ACL and MCL surgery in 2008 and has tossed for 2,052 yards at a 58.8 percent rate for a 205.2 average. He should leave UNM with around 6,800 passing yards. Not bad.

Is he a Payton Manning, a Tom Brady, a Stoney Case? Nah, but you can bet there are a lot of Lobos who are happy to look over their shoulder and see that Porterie has their back.

Porterie is a symbol of the 2009 seniors no more and no less than any of the other seniors because they are Lobos with a similar core. They will walk off the field Saturday as winners, regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard, because that's how they walked onto the field.