Hounds looking for 30 signees

PORTALES — Fifth-year Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo is hoping to have 30 high school players signed to national letters of intent on today’s first day of the national signing period.

The prospects are mainly from New Mexico and Texas, he said.

The Greyhounds, who went 2-9 overall and 0-6 last fall in the Lone Star Conference South Division, had already signed eight junior college transfers, most of them for the defensive side of the ball.

“I feel really good about it,” Ribaudo said of the potential high school haul. “It could be the biggest class we’ve signed here.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve got there. If you add in those junior college kids, it’ll be a nice mix.”

Ribaudo said the emphasis was on defense with the junior college players because that’s where the Hounds needed the most immediate help. He said three of the players are defensive linemen, two are linebackers, one is a safety and the other two are in the offensive line.

He’s hoping some of the incoming freshmen will be able to step in and help.

“Some might make an immediate impact,” he said. “Some might be a year or two away and a couple might be more than that. A lot of these kids have outstanding grades.”

Presuming they get most or all of the signees today they’re hoping for, Ribaudo said the Hounds could add two or three New Mexico prospects, but most of the work will be done.

He said the coaching staff didn’t prioritize much by position with high school recruiting.

“At the Division II level, you just have to recruit everything all the time,” he said. “It’s hard to create depth (at Division II). You just try to get the best football players you can.”

The Hounds should have six or seven starters back on both sides of the ball next year, Ribaudo said, but he added that they’ll still be young.

“Next year, we could possibly have no seniors (starting) on offense,” he said.

Spring drills are scheduled for April. The Hounds open the 2009 season on the last Saturday of August with a trip to Colorado State-Pueblo, a second-year program.

ENMU will host first-year program and future LSC member Incarnate Word in the season finale in November, with nine conference games — three crossovers against the North Division and six South games — in between.