Some more players to keep an eye on, this time on the Aggie defense.
- Rodney Butler, LB (sophomore)
The 6’1”, 212-pound middle ‘backer got his feet wet as a true freshman, chipping in 39 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a pass breakup. Coach Martin singled Butler out as the most-improved defensive player in the spring. You can expect him to lead the team in tackles this fall.
- Kalei Auelua, DE (sophomore)
Auelua came to NMSU after a knee injury forced him to grayshirt at the University of Washington in 2012. After contributing off the bench as a true freshman, the Honolulu native is expected to make a difference on a defensive line that recorded a mere 11 sacks last season. He has excellent strength and leverage and can be a force when he gets into the opponent’s backfield. Scout.com ranked him the fourth-best player in Hawaii coming out of high school.
- Tre Wilcoxen, LB (redshirt freshman)
An early enrollee for the Class of 2013, Wilcoxen was in line to play before an injury derailed his plans. He’s back now after a redshirt year, and looks to fill a need as a part-time starter at Will linebacker. The 6’0″, 200-pound Wilcoxen played mostly safety in high school, but he can use his speed off the edge to confuse the opposition. It’s a risky move, but Wilcoxen seems up to the task.
- Kedeem Thomas-Davis, CB (junior)
The Aggies’ secondary was short on depth and experience in the spring, and the El Paso native took advantage, recording a diving interception in the spring game. Thomas-Davis had 19 tackles coming off the bench in 2013 and looks to contribute more despite his lack of size (5’9”, 170 pounds).
- Dalton Rocha, LB (redshirt freshman)
Rocha had a good spring, making the adjustment to middle linebacker after finishing an all-county career as a defensive end at St. Bonaventure (CA) High School. Coaches like his intelligence and toughness. He should play in a reserve role.
- Jaden Wright, LB (freshman)
A gifted-but-raw prospect from Lewisville, Texas, Wright elected to grayshirt the 2013 season in order to refine his skills. Now, he’s enrolled in school and shined in the spring game, where he recorded a key pass breakup as well as a handful of tackles. It’s a lot to ask for a freshman to play middle linebacker, but it’s also exciting for the future of the Aggies’ defense.
- Samuel Oyenuga, LB (redshirt sophomore)
Oyenuga has had an interesting ride since arriving at NMSU as a three-star recruit out of Rowlett, Texas. After redshirting in 2011 and showing some moxie in 2012, he missed all of 2013 due to a torn ACL. Now he’s moved from cornerback to linebacker. He’s tough, physical, and one of the defense’s fastest players, so there’s a very real chance he could excel at his new position.
- Lewis Hill, CB (junior)
Hill seemingly came out of nowhere to record 33 tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception in 2013 as a part-time starter. Originally from Frisco, Texas, Hill has elite speed and could be one of the few sure options in a young secondary. He’s penciled in as a starter, despite missing the spring with shoulder surgery.
- Adaryan Jones, CB (freshman)
A two-time all-district pick, Jones played with fellow NMSU signee J.B. Copeland at Carroll Senior High in Texas. A constant presence in the secondary, Jones had three interceptions and 36 pass breakups in his two years as a starter. A smart kid with great size (6’1”, 170), Jones has all the tools to succeed in the Aggie defense.
- J.B. Copeland, LB (freshman)
It’s not every day that you find a linebacker who runs a 4.48, but Copeland is one of them. Jones’s teammate at Carroll is extremely agile and athletic, and he should be able to find a home at outside linebacker. Copeland said that part of the reason he chose NMSU was because he could get a chance to play right away, so he just might get his wish.
- Jacob Nwangwa, S (freshman)
To say that Nwangwa has a nose for the ball would be an understatement. He forced four fumbles, picked off seven passes, and broke up 17 others in his two years as a starter. The Arlington, Texas native has a chance to challenge at a position that lacks depth.