By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
With an offense that helped score a school-record 374 points, Eastern New Mexico University’s speed was never in doubt. With a 19-recruit signing day Wednesday, coach Mark Ribaudo is hoping he’s taken care of some size demands.
“For this pass protection, you need big people that are hard to run around and get to your quarterback,” Ribaudo said of the Greyhounds’ haul, which includes 6-foot-8 Todd Davis of Fredericksburg, Texas, and three other players at least 6-foot-4. “They’ve got long arms and great wingspan and it’s tough to rush around them.”
Wednesday was national signing day for college football.
Ribaudo said the offensive and defensive lines were the biggest priority for a squad bringing back most of its record-setting offense — save quarterback J.J. Harp, who was dismissed in January for team violations.
The Greyhounds did add one quarterback — Rio Rancho’s Tyler Baker. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound baker threw for 3,039 yards and 42 touchdowns and set more than half a dozen school records.
Whoever gets the starting nod, whether it’s sophomore-to-be Wes Wood of Muleshoe, Baker, or somebody else, fellow signee Jesus Davalos feels good about the Greyhound squad he just joined.
“It’ll be a tossup,” said Davalos, who accounted for 1,684 yards of offense and 24 touchdowns last season for Portales. “I think no matter who it is, with the coaches we have, he’ll be able to step in and do a good job.”
Ribaudo said Baker and Davalos are two of the bigger impact players on offense.
“Jesus was all-state, he fits this offense perfectly,” Ribaudo said of the 5-foot-9, 180-pound back. “I’ll never forget when he a junior, and he jumped right over a guy for a touchdown in a playoff game.”
The Hounds, who finished 3-8 last season, added five other New Mexico players, including Aztec receiver Jake Espinoza and Baker’s teammate at Rio Rancho, Dillon Metzger. The other 12 signees are from Texas schools.
On defense, Ribaudo said, the linebacker corps got some help with Keighan Thetford, who led Arlington (Texas) High with 151 tackles.
“I thought we addressed some needs in our D-line,” Ribaudo said. “They’re all very good, but there’s a couple in there (that could be breakout players). Joseph Henry from Brownwood is as good a defensive end as will be anyone in the conference.”