PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo said he expects this year’s recruiting class to be a good one.
“It’s (been) a really terrific year for us,” Ribaudo said Tuesday. “If (today) goes like we expect, it will be one of the best classes we’ve had, and there will be a strong local presence.”
Today is national signing day — the first day a football recruit can offically sign with a college.
College coaches are prohibited from talking about specific players before they sign, but Ribaudo said he expects to receive around 14 signed commitments — roughly 10 high school seniors and four junior college transfers.
“We recruited on character, speed, and intelligence,” he said. “We said, ‘Let’s go out and get some guys who can run and who high school coaches said were great kids.’”
Ribaudo said he hopes to bring in players to improve an ENMU defense that gave up 382.3 yards and 30 points per game during the Greyhounds’ 5-6 season.
“We got some guys who are athletes on defense,” Ribaudo said. “Which is something we needed desperately.”
On offense, Ribaudo said he was looking for running backs and wide receivers.
“We need to try and replace (two-time All-Lone Star Conference South wide receiver) Derrick Hunter — which is hard to do, obviously, considering he was the best we’ve ever had here,” Ribaudo said.
Hunter holds school records for most receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Ribaudo’s projections are based on verbal agreements he’s received from players, but until signed, players can back out of the agreement without penalty.
“Verbal agreements used to mean a lot more than they do now,” Ribaudo said. “Last year we had some kids call us on the morning of signing day and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind.’ So, until they sign those forms and fax them to us, you never know.”
The ENMU coach said he is confident things will run smoothly.
“I feel really strong about this group because they have called me up and said, ‘I want to be a Greyhound,’” Ribaudo said.