New Mexico Lobos Football – On Branch Field at University Stadium
When/Who: 6 p.m., Saturday – UTSA vs. New Mexico Lobos
On The Air: 770-AM KKOB, My50-TV; ESPN Deportes, 1450-AM KRZY (Spanish)
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete States, Photo Gallery
Game Promotions: Bob Davie Bobble Heads (first 2,500 fans); YAFL Night (selected YAFL teams will play at halftime); Postgame Fireworks Show
Coach Bob Davie says: “Walk-ons are critical to our success here at UNM. I have tremendous respect for all of them and want to have a way to recognize their importance and contributions to the program."
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
As the first New Mexico Man of the Lobos’ 2013 football season, Reece White has the right stuff. He is a walk-on from New Mexico soil. He played at Cleveland High in Rio Rancho.
But Reece White also has the stuff that Lobos are made of. He has put the need of the team first and that decision has helped thrust him into the starting lineup at 6 p.m., Saturday vs. UTSA – sometimes called the University of Texas San Antonio.
.“Wherever I’m needed on the team is where I wanted to be,” said White, who will carry the New Mexico state flag onto Branch Field Saturday when he leads the Lobos onto the turf. “It’s worked out pretty well for me right now.
“It will be really exciting to lead the team out there with the flag and be able to represent New Mexico athletes. It’s a great honor to have.”
White came to UNM as a walk-on, which is one of the requirements to be a New Mexico Man. But to carry the flag a walk-on also has to exhibit team spirit, the Lobo work ethic, and the unselfish character that it takes to be a Bob Davie Lobo. White meets those requirements, too.
In order to become a starter at tight end, White had to change positions, improve his blocking and eat, eat, eat -- lift, lift, lift. White came to New Mexico in 2012 as a walk-on wide out. He has added at least 11 pounds in order to find success closer to the line of scrimmage.
In a way, White is a symbol of UNM’s decision to improve its “pistol” attack by improving the passing game. At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, White is not a big tight end. But the All-Metro receiver from Cleveland High (catching passes thrown by Cole Gautsche) has hands.
“Throughout camp we have definitely put an emphasis on our passing game and play action,” said White. “It’s really turned out for the better and I feel like we’re going to be a much more balanced team this year. It’s gone really well.
“We’re obviously a very good option-run team and we can do that on third down. But being able to switch it up with play action or (passing) to get that first down is going to be huge and is going to open our game a lot.”
Obviously, White likes to catch the football and that’s a call-to-arms for any tight end. But tight ends also have another key requirement in a Lobo offense so efficient at smash-mouth football. You have to block.
White said his biggest challenge is “probably when I have to put my hand on the ground (3-point stance) and I’m down on the line (as an extension of the offensive line). Obviously, I’m not as big as most tight ends or the D-linemen I’m going against.”
The versatility of UNM’s pistol attack also moves White around. If he is off the line or in the slot position, he can flow easier into routes or maybe have a blocking assignment against a linebacker. “That’s a little bit easier for me,” said White, who often has to block Lobo linebacker Dallas Bollema in practice drills.
White is a versatile athlete and that’s vital in playing tight end for UNM where you are part lineman, part tight end and part halfback/wide out. He ran the hurdles in high school and prior to being named an All-Metro receiver, he was an All-Metro linebacker. He understands the tight end position from both sides of the line. His quickness and speed also make him a tough assignment for linebackers.
When Cleveland High won the Class 5A title, Reece was Gautsche’s favorite target. He hopes to catch Gautsche’s eye again come Saturday and he can’t wait “to pound on someone else.”
“There are always those pregame jitters, nerves, anxiousness to play,” said White. “But once that first play is over, most of those jitters are gone. It’s that first collision. You have to get that first collision in and then after that it all falls into place.”