ENMU’s Ribaudo expects big signing haul

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo is looking forward to a big haul today on college football signing day.

Ribaudo said the Greyhounds are hoping to sign up to 26 high school players.

Five of them are from New Mexico, but he said the quality is high.

“I think they’re five of the best players in New Mexico,” said Ribaudo, who is not permitted to talk specifics until after players sign. “I think we got a great haul out of New Mexico.

“I think this is the third year in a row we’ve won (the recruiting battle) in New Mexico, even (against New Mexico) State and UNM (New Mexico).”

The other 21 players are from Texas.

“What we is we filled some needs,” said Ribaudo, whose team went 5-6 in 2010. “Hopefully, we’ll have about six DBs (defensive backs) and about five OLs (offensive linemen) signed.

“We tried to fill the needs, but after that I told (his assistant coaches) to go get me some winners. I literally want that (word) to come out of the high school coaches’ mouths (when talking about their players).”

Ribaudo said the secondary and offensive line were the key areas of concern. ENMU is graduating cornerbacks Rod Mitchell and Tavius Bigelow and safety Tillman Stevens on defense, and tackle Karlton Graves, guard T.J. Cleavinger and center Ryan Torres from the offensive line.

“I think we had 58 kids up for visits and we hope to sign 26,” Ribaudo said. “That’s absolutely phenomenal. That’s a credit to our assistant coaches.”

If they all sign, he said that could be it for this year.

“If all these guys sign, I don’t think we’ve got any (scholarship) money left,” he said.

Ribaudo said that would allow his staff to focus on getting ready for spring drills in April.

The Lone Star Conference is losing its five football-playing Oklahoma schools and will become a nine-school league in that sport. ENMU’s schedule includes 10 games, with eight of them in the now-nine-team LSC.

The opener is a 6 p.m. non-conference game against New Mexico Highlands at Greyhound Stadium on Sept. 3.