By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Three quarterbacks and a handful of running backs and wide receivers were among 30 high school players to sign national letters of intent with Eastern New Mexico University on Wednesday’s national signing day.
The Hounds are switching to what head coach Mark Ribaudo said will be a Texas Tech-style passing attack in 2008.
“It went well,” Ribaudo said of signing day. “This is more (players) than we’ve ever signed in all my years here.
“It’s a big day for us. It’s a lot of quality and a large amount of quantity.”
Twenty-eight of the signees were from Texas with two from New Mexico, including Clovis High center Nathan Carver, who helped the Wildcats reach the Class 5A state championship game last fall.
The other New Mexico signee is two-way tackle Ricky Padilla of Las Cruces High.
Ribaudo said three other players transferred in to ENMU at the semester, joining nearly 80 who are expected to be on hand for spring drills beginning next month.
Carver, who is recovering from a torn MCL sustained in the Cats’ 49-48 loss to Mayfield in the state finals, said he hadn’t expected to play college football.
“I never thought I’d make it that far,” the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Carver said. “To be one of the few (signees) from New Mexico makes me feel real good.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Eastern, but I never planned on playing.”
Carter said ENMU coaches have told him that, with their passing game, he will have to learn to snap the ball a little differently and get ready to pass-block a lot more than he did in high school.
The QBs signed by ENMU include Travis Chrisman of Comfort, Texas; J.J. Harp of Argyle, Texas, and Shaun Rutherford of Bay City, Texas.
“We’ve signed three excellent quarterbacks, and I’ve still got my eye on one or two more,” said Ribaudo, entering his 12th year at ENMU and fourth as head coach.
Among the receivers are Darian Dale of Bay City, Texas, and Matt Handler of Argyle. Defensive signees include end Nick Adams of Houston and end Matt Cornett and end-linebacker Patrick McGrath of La Vernia, Texas.
“We beat out some Division I-AAs (to sign Adams),” Ribaudo said.
Ribaudo said most of the signees were all-district-level players in high school last season.
ENMU finished with a 5-6 record in 2007.
Joseph Banyard, RB, 6-2, 200, Sweetwater, Texas; Edward Zamora, OLB, 6-0, 210, San Antonio; Isaiah Yandall, DT, 6-3, 280, Euless, Texas; Kedric Carver, RB/S, 5-11, 175, New Deal, Texas; J.J. Harp, QB, 6-2, 180, Argyle, Texas; Matt Handler, WR, 6-3, 200, Argyle, Texas; Travis Chrisman, QB, 6-4, 210, Comfort, Texas; Shaun Rutherford, QB, 6-1, 185, Bay City, Texas; Darian Dale, WR, 6-0, 180, Bay City, Texas; Anthony Owusu-Appiah, WR, 6-0, 190, Hurst, Texas; Taniela Vake, LB, 6-1, 200, Hurst, Texas; Robert Carter, RB, 5-11, 180, Rockwall, Texas; Ryan Cook, DB, 5-10, 165, Houston; Ira Wallace, OL/DL, 6-1, 315, Odessa, Texas; Ricky Padilla, OL/DL, 6-2, 250, Las Cruces; Matt Cornett, DE, 6-3, 220, La Vernia, Texas; Patrick McGrath, DE/LB, 6-1, 250, La Vernia, Texas; Nick Adams, DE, 6-4, 255, Houston; Josey Childs, DL, 6-0, 200, Midland, Texas; Evan Fraley, OL, 6-7, 315, Montgomery, Texas; Justin Ward, OL, 6-5, 310, Brownwood, Texas; Jaime Villafuerte, OL, 6-3, 310, San Antonio; Adam Robinson, OL, 6-6, 305, Lubbock; Nathan Carver, C, 6-3, 265, Clovis; Brandon Marbley, WR, 5-9, 165, Houston; Jason Fidge, OLB, 6-1, 188, Conroe, Texas; Terrence Griffin, RB, 5-10, 190, Conroe, Texas; Reggie Butler, FS, 5-11, 165, Baytown, Texas; Kiethy Flye, RB, 5-10, 175, Abilene, Texas; Curtis Jackson, RB, 5-10, 185, College Station, Texas.