Lobo football: Gonzales made a ‘major adjustment’ to squad development when transfers came in

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

Danny Gonzales will say it — that wasn’t exactly the plan.

It wasn’t in 2020 that he began his role as head coach of New Mexico Football, with incremental player development his core concern. Not even a little over a year ago, when Lobos added 22 new players via the transfer portal.

But things are changing. Plans are changed. And more than ever, rosters are flipping.

“I say it all the time: if you want to be a good coach, you get good players,” Gonzales said.

With that in mind, New Mexico announced 13 additional transfers on Wednesday afternoon to bring their total to 18 after the fall transfer portal’s 45-day window closed on Jan. 18. All transfers have enrolled for the spring semester at UNM and are eligible to attend spring training.

Including transfers and 11 first recruits, the 2023 class of Lobos currently consists of 28 players. Gonzales indicated that four to six more players would be added on National Signing Day (February 1), with a willingness to use the 15-day transfer window in May to fill potential needs discovered during spring training.

Considering previous seasons, Gonzales admitted they’ve made a “drastic” change in the roster line-up but expressed excitement at the impact these new additions could have on the programme.

“We adjusted our model to have more children who can compete now, rather than develop them over a four-year period,” he said. “I said at the very beginning that we’re coming to a Conference championship and you might have to deviate and adapt along the way.

“Well, we’ve made a big adjustment.”

A pair of former four-star recruits and security guards at Bryson Washington (Oklahoma) and D’Arco Perkins-McAllister (TCU) are running the new portal approaches. Washington appeared in 16 games over two seasons for the Sooners, while Perkins-McAllister played 20 games over two seasons for the Horned Frogs.

The Lobos added two more TCU transfers with wide receiver Caleb Medford and safety Marvin Covington. Gonzales cited relationships with former TCU head coach (and former New Mexico assistant) Gary Patterson, current TCU head coach Sonny Dykes and TCU special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl to allow for three signings from the national runners-up.

“That’s the biggest thing that gets scary about the transfer portal,” Gonzales said. “You’re recruiting kids that you can’t have a relationship with for that long because they might not be in the transfer portal (that long). But if they come with people you trust, that’s a big (help).”

The Lobos added another Power 5 transfer on defense with defensive lineman/defensive end Gabriel Lopez (Washington State) and a Group of 5 transfer with wide receiver Ryan Davis (UAB). Davis is scheduled to be reunited with Dylan Hopkins, his former quarterback at UAB.

New Mexico has also attracted a unique prospect in tight end Magnus Geers (Temple). A native of Zurich, Switzerland, Geers is the first Swiss-born player at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. He first learned the game by watching YouTube videos.

“Thank goodness there are things like FaceTime audio that you can use to talk abroad without it costing you any money,” Gonzales said of recruiting Geers.

The Lobos brought seven players from JUCO, four on the defensive side of the ball and three on the offensive side. Linebacker Mihalis Santorineos (Sierra College), safety Aaron Smith (Mt. San Antonio College), defensive lineman Hunter Rapolla (Mt. San Jacinto College) and linebacker Dimitri Johnson (Santa Rosa Junior College) will strengthen their respective position groups in their first FBS -Squadrons.

On offense, former Cleveland High School standout and 2018 Gatorade New Mexico Football Player of the Year Dorian Lewis (Coffeyville Community College) will seek to play a role in his hometown college backfield while wide receiver DJ Washington (Iowa Central Community College) provides another welcome option for a team looking to shoot on the field.

Gonzales also clarified that all players who entered the transfer portal from New Mexico at the end of the 2022 season will not return.

The Lobos, who are coming off a 2-10 season, will begin spring training on February 14.

NSD Release 2023 – January from the Albuquerque Journal on Scribd