Sept. 30, 2004
Cornerback Brandon Payne
6-0 188 Dayton, Texas (Blinn JC)
Returning starter at the right cornerback position...had a solid debut season for the Lobos in 2003 and has played at an all-conference level so far 2004...does an excellent job of recognizing and communicating formation changes to the rest of the secondary...needs to keep polishing his technique, but brings good size and strength to the position...has been a much more physical player this year...began the 2003 season backing up Jerrell Malone at right corner after transferring to UNM in January...did not play football in 2002 in order to concentrate on his academics...played at Blinn College (Brenham, Texas) in 2000 and 2001 for current UNM special teams coordinator Everett Todd.
You've gotten off to a great start this year, leading the nation in passes defended, what do you think has been the biggest reason for your success so far this fall?
How much easier has been to prepare for this year compared to last spring when you first transferred to UNM?
"It's a lot easier now because I'm in shape this year compared to when I was a junior. I had a whole year to prepare myself, so I'm in a lot better shape."
Last year you and Gabe were relatively inexperienced and untested, how do you feel the two of you progressed throughout the 2003 season?
"I think we progressed really well, but we still have to step it up because we have a lot of football left to play."
When you are both on your game, is there a better duo of corners in the Mountain West Conference?
"No, because we have more experience at the corner, plus we have Jerrell Malone as our third corner and he has a lot of experience too. So I feel the three of us are the best corners in the conference."
What kind of challenges does the UNM defensive system present to the corners?
"It's a big challenge because based on our defense, if we don't cover, we give up big plays and we end up losing. We have to come out and play our best for us to win the games."
How satisfying was it to hold Texas Tech's powerful passing offense to just 24 points earlier this year, especially once you saw that they put up 70 points on TCU the following week?
"It was very shocking that they scored that much on TCU and they even threw the ball more against them then they did against us. I feel like we played pretty good against them, but still gave up a lot of big plays. It's kind of shocking to see them do that against TCU because TCU has a good defense too."
What's the hardest pass route or play to defend man-to-man?
"I think the post-corner route is the hardest to defend because you have to keep your eyes on the receiver and you have to have good technique and good feet. Then when the receiver breaks it off to the post, you have to keep good inside leverage. Coach (Troy) Reffet always talks about good leverage and you have to have good leverage. When the receiver breaks it off, we have to have a good plant foot and get our head around first to make a play on the ball."
What's the best play you have made on the field since coming to New Mexico?
"I would say in the red zone against Texas Tech when I got that interception in the endzone. It was a lot of pressure on us because they were trying to put the ball in the endzone and I made a big play for my defense and my team so my offense could get the ball and go score."
How much of an adjustment was it coming from Blinn JC to UNM?
"It was a big adjustment because I had to work to get my academics in order and I had taken a whole year off from football before I got here. I had to do a lot of work to get to where I am. I also had to learn the system of the defense, get the technique down and get in a lot better shape."
How would you describe yourself off the field?
"A leader and a good person because I get along with a lot of people. I make friends with a lot of people and I'm very sociable."
What do you do with your free time?
"I sit at home. Since this is my senior year, I've been more focused on school and football, so I can graduate in May. I've just been more focused and not going out to any parties. Instead I just hang out at home with my girlfriend."
What are your plans after your playing days are over?
"I plan on getting my degree first of all because that is the main thing I'm trying to get out of my experience at UNM. Then whatever God has for me, I will take advantage of it. I plan on being a coach and coaching at my high school or anywhere I can go."
Defensive End Ryan Rice
6-0 235 Lakewood, Colo. (Green Mountain HS)
Former walk-on who has lettered the past three years, mostly for his special teams play...a veteran who has played three different positions in his Lobo career...moved from fullback to tight end last year, and switched to defensive end this past spring...placed on scholarship prior to the 2002 season...2003 Beefmaster Award Winner for the 226-250-pound weight class...a 2000 graduate of Lakewood (Colo.) Green Mountain High School, a Denver suburb.
How did you end up attending the University of New Mexico?
When did you find out you would be receiving a scholarship?
"Coach Long is good enough to give out scholarships to guys who have been here for two or more years, if you've earned it. I had traveled (to road games) the year before and played special teams. He called me into his office and told me I had a scholarship. It was a great moment for me."
Your major is Media Arts and you are interested in filmmaking. How did you become interested in this subject?
"I've always been a good artist, as far as drawing and painting, and I also love music. I see film as the culmination of all art forms: visual, aesthetics, audio, dialogue, theater. It's something I really got into late in high school. I also did not feel like scrapping by as a starving artist, selling paintings. Filmmaking became a passion."
What type of films would you like to make?
"All kinds. I'd like to make dramatic films. Obviously, something about athletics, probably high school football. Historical films, epics and comedy. I'd love to do it all."
Do you want to be in front of the camera or behind it?
"I'd like to be behind the camera, although I do have some prior experience in front of the camera. In high school, I won best actor at a film festival for a film a friend of mine wrote and directed. It was an off-the-wall comedy. I played a talk show host. But, my real passion is to tell the story behind the camera."
What are your favorite movies?
"Braveheart, L.A. Confidential, JFK, Rudy, Hoosiers, The Natural, among many others."
Who are you favorite actors?
"Paul Newman, Harrison Ford and Jack Nicholson."
How many movies have you seen in the past year?
"Actually, just a handful. There isn't a lot of free time between school and football."
What's the best new movie you've seen?
"Master and Commander."
What current Lobo teammates would make the best actors and in what roles?
"I would probably have to hold auditions. We've got a lot of characters on the team who would fit into a comedy role. As far as anything with drama, I don't know. Maybe a few of the big guys. They may have a tough exterior, but I think they have a soft side where they could do some dramatic work."
What current Lobo coaches would make the best actors and in what roles?
"Probably (offensive line coach) coach (Bob) Bostad. If he wouldn't be a good actor, he would at least make a good movie character. He has a unique personality and I'll leave it at that."
What is the best moment in your UNM career?
"There have been a lot of good moments: the bowl games, beating CSU last year was terrific and winning at BYU two years ago, but I really hope the best moment is still to come this season."
Where will you be a year from now?
"I'm actually going into the Marines next June. I'm going to Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. I've got a year of training, then I'll be deployed. It's a mandatory three-year commitment. After that, you can keep going in two-year increments. Ideally, I'll probably go five years, join the reserves, then pursue my career of writing and directing, but I don't rule out that it could be a career for me especially the way the world is right now. I've always felt the duty to do it (join the service). Personally, I feel like I've been given so much by the opportunities we have in this country. I feel obligated to give back and continue to give other people the opportunities that I've had."
Safety Kevin Walton
6-0 203 Denver, Colo. (George Washington HS)
Veteran safety and special teams standout who entered the season behind junior Art Haynes at the left wolf (strong) safety spot before suffering a broken left arm while making a tackle on the opening kickoff in the season-opener vs. Washington State...returned to practice on Sept. 19 and played his second game of the year at New Mexico State...bright player who has an excellent grasp of the defensive system...also an excellent athlete who brings solid speed to the mix...solid weight room numbers as well...480 squat, 301 power clean...three-time academic all-conference honoree and 2003 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award winner.
Why did you choose to come to UNM?
Did that hold true when you got here?
"Yeah, because it was so aggressive, mayhem and all the crazy blitzes, we did. It was like something that nobody had ever seen before because nobody was really doing it. It was like organized chaos."
What went through your head when you broke your arm on the first play in the first game of the season? Did you know you broke it right away?
"As soon as I got hit I knew it was broken. I had broke it my freshman year and that was terrible. It was both bones and I snapped my wrist, and the whole arm was just jacked up, but this time it was just one bone. I hit and there was a plate already in there. The edge of the plate broke the bone. As soon as I got hit I knew that feeling. It didn't hurt, but it didn't feel right. I went inside and said `Don't tell me this thing is broken.' They started looking at it and when they moved it I felt the bone move. They went and x-rayed it. I just wanted them to wrap it up for me and put back out there and play. I did not want to miss that game."
What did you do after they told you had a broken arm?
"I told them I'd be back in two weeks; that was my mission. I said, `Do whatever you have to do to get me back in two weeks.' I had surgery the next morning. They just took the old plate out and put a bigger plate on there."
What other goals do you have for this season and the rest of this semester?
"My main focus is to definitely make this comeback and get back into ball playing. Football is definitely a goal. I'm also working on an album."
What sort of album?
"Rap. I started my own record label called Twilight Entertainment."
Why Twilight Entertainment?
"Well, back in Denver some of my close friends, one of them is a DJ, and they had their own entertainment thing and that's what they called it. I told them I wanted to start a record label and raise this whole thing up world wide. So, I've definitely been working on that and we'll see how it goes. "
Have you always been into music?
"I've always loved music. Ever since I was little my two passions have been music and football. I write my own raps. I write songs for other people. One of my biggest things is writing. That's what I do a lot in my off time. I'm always writing lyrics, songs, poems, and short stories. I try to have a way with words."