May 1, 2013
Here are parts III and IV of a 10-part series examining the University of New Mexico's position-by-position outlook upon its exit from spring practice on Saturday.
Tuesday: Offensive/defensive lines
Today: Tight ends/outside linebackers
Thursday: Running backs/inside linebackers
Friday: Wide receivers/defensive backs
Saturday: Quarterbacks/special teams
Starters returning: None
Questions coming into camp: The Lobos had to replace two experienced veterans in Lucas Reed (a former All-Mountain West first-team honoree who's in camp with the Denver Broncos) and Chris Biren. Identifying playmakers was a priority.
What happened during camp: Senior Aho answered the questions about who would step up as a playmaker. After missing last spring practice with a knee injury he suffered just before the session was about to start, Aho returned to play the second half of the 2012 season.
"This is his first time being `the guy,' at his position and getting as many reps as he has," UNM tight ends coach Derek Warehime said. "In talking to him the other day, he had 30 snaps in our (April 20) scrimmage. That's more snaps than he's played in a live setting since he's been here at New Mexico."
Sophomore Edling, who say playing time mostly on special teams as a true freshman last season, is stepping into Biren's role as the blocking tight end.
"He's showing some signs of doing some really good things, just from what his role will be as that fullback kind of role," Warehime said. "He's a physical kid, a smart kid, very coachable. He's going to go out there and play 100 miles per hour."
Also getting a close look were Rebhun, a redshirt freshman, and White, a sophomore who played wide receiver last season. Warehime likes Rebhun's athleticism, and White has showed a willingness to take on defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage, despite weighing only 206 pounds.
In fact, Warehime says weight gain will be a group project this summer. "They've all got to get stronger, and for the most part, got to put on more weight. They also have to develop their technique combine with increasing strength."
Help on the way: None. UNM didn't recruit any tight ends in the 2013 recruiting class.
Coach Warehime wisdom: "What's interesting is there's really not much difference in how we approached last spring compared to this spring, in terms of my meetings with the group. Last year, Lucas was hurt, Chris Biren was hurt, Aho was hurt. So our returning guys know the terminology better, and I don't want to say we're starting over, but they've got to do a similar job in terms of going out there and putting what they've learned into action."
Starters returning: Senior Rashad Rainey (no contact during the spring because of a shoulder injury)
Also in camp: Sophomore Richard Winston, junior Javarie Johnson, redshirt freshman Kenya Donaldson, junior Tevin Newman, junior Jayson Gurule, redshirt freshman Damacio Lopez, redshirt freshman Brandon Wade.
Questions coming into camp: The Lobos had to find someone to fill in for Rainey at the strong side linebacker position and develop depth behind Johnson at the rush linebacker position because of the graduation of Joseph Harris.
What happened during camp: The coaching staff took a deep look at Newman to see what he could do, and he did not disappoint. Newman, who was having a strong 2012 spring until he hurt an ankle, again shined during the spring and will provide valuable depth.
"Overall, Tevin Newman was the standout of the spring by far," outside linebackers coach Coleman Hutlzer said. "We were anxious to see the development he could make in the spring. He's come light years from where he was. Last spring, he had an ankle in the spring and played some in the fall. This year, he's come into his own."
Two walk-ons also stepped up and appear ready to compete for playing time in 2013. Junior rush LB Gurule did a nice job as the No. 2 behind Johnson, Hutzler said, and redshirt freshman Kenya Donaldson showed his athletic ability in making the transition from safety to outside linebacker.
Sophomore Richard Winston also showed some flashes of improvement during the spring, and Hutzler reminds everyone that Winston enrolled early at UNM last season and still has a long way to go before being considered a veteran.
Help on the way: None. The Lobos signed high school players Trevon Roy and Donnie White to help with create competition in the fall.
Coach Hutzler wisdom: "Bigger, stronger, faster. It's on Coach (strength and conditioning coordinator Ben) Hilgart now. They all have their own individual strength and weaknesses; they know they need to work on."