The top 10 New Mexico football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
What You Need To Know About New Mexico’s Offense
1. LB Dakota Cox
Cox led the team in tackles in his first two years – making 215 – and he did it again last season making 96 stops with five sacks and 11 tackles for loss. The most amazing part? He did it after tearing his ACL the year before. One of the Mountain West’s biggest stars going into the season, this is his defense to run from his inside linebacker spot. Great both on and off the field, earning all-star honors in the classroom while proving to be the ultimate team leader on it. At 6-0 and 231 pounds, he’s built for the position, while showing just enough burst and anticipation to be in the right spot making the big play for the run defense. As good as he is, though, now the rest of the defense around him must start working.
2. QB Lamar Jordan
While he’s not all that big at 5-10 and 190 pounds, and he doesn’t have the built to be the type of quarterback to take a pounding, he’s got special running skills to go along with a good enough arm to get the ball down the field. He split time last year – and he will again – but he turned it up a few notches in a few key games, running for 304 over a two-game span against Wyoming and New Mexico State, and cranked up 135 yards and three touchdowns in the bowl loss to Arizona. Erratic as a passer, he only connected on 14-of-33 passes with two touchdowns and six picks over the last five games, but he can throw on the move – he’s just never going to be a top pocket passer. Get him rolling in the running game, and he’s a slippery playmaker.
3. RB Teriyon Gipson
The 5-8, 182-pound compact quick back was the No. 2 man behind Jhurell Pressley last season, but he still cranked up the production averaging 5.8 yards per carry with 850 yards and six scores, while catching 17 passes for 185 yards. Good for over ten carries a game, he was a steady and dangerous producer all season long, topping out with a 142-yard day against New Mexico State. Now he’s the main man for the backfield with the pop to his came to be a statistical superstar. He’s going to put up monster numbers.
4. S Daniel Henry
Just when it seemed like he was about to become a star in his sophomore season, he got knocked out for the year with a torn labrum. He came back last year and was better than could be expected, finishing second on the year with 70 stops with a sack and three tackles for loss, with four broken up passes. While he’s not built to provide much of a pop, the 6-1, 196-pounder has decent size and isn’t afraid to get nasty. With his range and his length, he needs to be more of a ball-hawk, but he’s tackler who should be in for all-star honors.
5. LB Kimmie Carson
Great from the start, Carson made 62 tackles in his freshman season. As a sophomore he came up with 66 stops with 3.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss working on the outside with his speed and quickness all back. He suffered a knee injury early in his career, and he’s not built to take too much of a pounding at 6-0 and 213 pounds, but he makes up for his lack of bulk with tremendous quickness.
Not big and not bulky, it doesn’t matter – Henderson is the right left tackle for this offense. The 6-4, 275-pounder has been a good starter who gets out on the move and can bring some pop when he gets the chance to spring the big play. Very athletic and very quick, he might not be a road grader, but he’s able to play wherever he’s needed – he could kick inside to guard at times if he has to.
7. DE Nik D’Avanzo
The right-sized defensive end for the Lobo modified 3-4, D’Avanzo has been a part of the line from the start, coming up with 4.5 sack as a sophomore – he was pretty much it for the team’s pass rush – and then last year put it all together finishing fourth on the team with 53 tackles with 8.5 tackles for loss. At 6-3 and 281 pounds he’s built more like a defensive tackle and not a quick pass rusher. While he can move, his job is to slow down the run.
8. DT William Udeh
The 6-0, 294-pound nose tackle has the quickness off the ball to come up with stops and get into the backfield, but he has to do it even more. More than that, he has to be a wall against the run, or an anchor. He came up with 17 tackles and two tackles for loss, but he’s mostly used to lock up blockers – he has the body type to potentially do that.
9. WR Dameon Gamblin
The Lobos don’t throw all that often, but it needs to hit the big play when it does. That’s what Delane Hart-Johnson is for – he averaged close to 30 yards per catch on his 11 grabs – while Gamblin is the go-to target. The 5-10, 175-pounder led the team with 35 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns – 21 more catches than anyone else on the team – with 131 yards and a score against Tulsa as the highlight. Fast, he can get deep and can do more on the move.
10. RB Richard McQuarley
The next back up with Jhurrell Pressley gone, McQuarley got in a little work in the rotation last year finishing fourth on the team with 203 yards averaging 4.42 yards per carry. However, he was great around the goal line with seven of his 52 carries going for scores. At 5-11 and 218 pounds, he has good size to provide more of a physical style and pop, and he has the talent to be the main man at times. A former JUCO transfer, he was a workhorse in his one year. Now he’ll provide the thunder to Teriyon Gipson’s lightning.