So as I mentioned in the previous blog, the Aggies enjoyed a solid Signing Day, bringing in 24 new players, including three transfers who are already on campus for the spring semester. I feel like our staff did a very good job with evaluations and even flipped some quality players from different schools. Again, we’re hitting Texas hard (10 players) and we still have some kids coming in from California (three), but we’ve also branched into Colorado (two recruits) and Arizona (three). We even found some kids in the southeast region — the Sun Belt Conference’s natural recruiting blueprint — so it’s safe to say we’re diversifying the roster. Personally, as long these kids are determined to play hard, that’s good enough for me!
And it’s a process. The big-time mid-major programs — Northern Illinois, Boise State, Bowling Green, and Marshall, just to name a few — have never gotten the four and five star kids on Signing Day. What they have done is develop NFL-quality players in a few years by being great evaluators on the recruiting trail, and by properly developing these players when they step on campus. So when I see that Scout or Rivals or even ESPN has not ranked NMSU particularly high in recruiting, I’m not worried, because I have enough faith that Coach Martin and Co. know who they want and what they’re doing.
Brandyn Leonard, RB
- Mountain Pointe High School (Phoenix, Arizona)
THE SKINNY: Named to the American Family Insurance All-USA Arizona Team and was ranked #37 at his position in Arizona by 247Sports…helped the Pride finish with a 10-3 overall record and a berth in the state playoff semifinals…rushed for 1,627 yards and 12 TDs in his senior season, averaging eight yards a carry…ran for 626 yards and 11 scores as a junior…runs a 4.5 in the 40….coached by Norris Vaughan…recruited to NMSU by Coach Shaun Johnson.
MY ANALYSIS: This guy has some excellent burst and possesses great vision. Leonard has potential to be an explosive player once he gets more muscle on his frame, so he’s someone that the Aggies’ staff would like to redshirt. He comes from a well-regarded high school program that is a consistent winner, as they were ranked #5 in Arizona last year.
Montrice Johns, TE
- Del Norte High School (San Diego, California)
THE SKINNY: Made 10 catches, 171 yards, and three scores during his prep career…was also named all-first team on defense, when he recorded 23 tackles, two sacks and a blocked punt…chose the Aggies over Weber State and Alabama State…also played basketball….played for Coach Leigh Cole…recruited to NMSU by Coach Todd Littlejohn.
MY ANALYSIS: Johns has a physical demeanor and is fast for his size. All of his recruiting offers came late in the game, so he’s a real diamond in the rough, but the Aggies need some tight ends, so they’re glad to have gotten him. He still needs more polish on his game, but he’s a quality blocker and could quickly develop into a viable red-zone target.
Javahn Ferguson, LB
- Southern Lab High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
THE SKINNY: Named Class 1A MVP by the coaches’ association…first team all-state, all-district, and all-metro…ranked the 27th-best player in Louisiana…made 138 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, and eight sacks as a senior…previously played at Catholic HS, also in Baton Rouge…coached by Nick Mitchell…recruited to NMSU by Coach Kerry Locklin.
MY ANALYSIS: NMSU always seems to need quality linebackers, and Ferguson fits the mold. Both TCU and Southern Miss were very interested in him and were pursuing him late, but a last-minute weekend visit to NMSU sealed the deal. Ferguson is a tackling machine who already has great size and above-average speed. He was slowed down by hip injuries early in his prep career, but he still impressed scouts and coaches alike at various regional combines, including the Core 6 New Orleans Showcase.
Demarcus Owens, CB
- Yukon High School (Yukon, Oklahoma)
THE SKINNY: First team all-conference pick who runs a 4.5 in the 40…previously played at Guyer (TX) High School, where he recorded 32 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and a forced fumble in his junior season…chose the Aggies after previously committing to North Texas…played at Yukon for Coach Bill Young…recruited to NMSU by Coach Will Martin.
MY ANALYSIS: Owens is a real find for the Aggies, who have had no shortage of shutdown corners in the last five years or so. Watching this kid’s film, I was very impressed by his scrappy style of play and his physical demeanor. Barring injury, he could find his way onto the field right away.
Tony Bello, OL
- Bear Creek High School (Lakewood, Colorado)
THE SKINNY: Helped the Bears to a 7-4 record in 2014 while earning first team all-league honors…ranked the 19th-best recruit in Colorado by 247Sports…chose the Aggies over Northern Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, and South Dakota State…coached by Zach Morris…recruited to NMSU by Coach Walt Wells.
MY ANALYSIS: Bello is a big offensive guard from the Denver area who has all the physical tools to be a great offensive lineman for the Aggies. He’s already got great size, but Coach Martin wants to redshirt him so he can get even stronger.
Cedric Wilcots, DT
- Wilmer-Hutchins High School (Dallas, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Named Defensive Lineman of the Year and also earned Class 4A honorable mention honors….had 101 tackles, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in his senior campaign…recorded 11 tackles, two sacks, and one tackle for loss in only two games as a junior…made 30 tackles and two tackles for loss as a sophomore, playing in only four games….coached by Elzie Barnett….recruited to NMSU by Coach Will Martin.
MY ANALYSIS: Coach Martin has emphasized the need for bigger players on the defensive line, and Wilcots fits the bill. He’s a tireless worker who can pressure the quarterback particularly well. He’s another guy who was underrated for most of his career due to the injury bug, but he could really be a solid player at NMSU. Personally, I would redshirt him unless injuries strike along the line.
Garron Nash, DE
- Wichita Falls High School (Wichita Falls, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Named a Class 5A second team all-state pick who helped the Coyotes to an 8-4 overall record…made 62 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks as a senior…coached by Danny Russell…recruited to NMSU by Coach Walt Wells.
MY ANALYSIS: A redshirt candidate. Nash is quick off the line of scrimmage and has good strength, but he could be even better with a redshirt year under his belt. He’s also a really good basketball player.
Clayton Granch, TE
- Valley Christian High School (Cerritos, California)
- Long Beach City College (Long Beach, California)
THE SKINNY: Two-time all-conference pick at tight end…caught 12 balls for 192 yards and two touchdowns in 2014, in addition to 17 receptions for 365 yards and three TDs as a freshman…was also a JC Academic All-American who intends to major in criminal justice at NMSU…coached by Woodie Grayson at Valley Christian and by Brett Peabody in junior college….recruited to NMSU by Coach Kevin McKeethan.
MY ANALYSIS: Granch is gonna play right away, and not just because he’s already on campus. This guy is a hard worker and a quality all-around athlete who fills an immediate need for the Aggies at tight end. He’s a good character kid and a great student.
Christian Gibson, S
- Prime Prep Academy (Dallas, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Honorable mention pick who runs a 4.37 in the 40 and has a 37-inch vertical…helped the Spartans finish 9-2 overall and undefeated in district play…honor roll student with a 3.4 GPA…team captain who also played wide receiver and quarterback…previously played at Brewer (TX) High School in Fort Worth…recruited to NMSU by Coach Todd Littlejohn.
MY ANALYSIS: Gibson is a versatile athlete who will most likely start his career at corner, but he’s also big and physical enough to be a great safety. He was another late commitment whose visit to NMSU convinced him to come out here.
Derek Watson, DE
- Guyer High School (Denton, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Helped the Wildcats to an 11-2 record while struggling with injuries as a senior…made 61 total tackles, 26 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and an interception in 2013…as a senior, recorded 28 tackles, six tackles for loss, one sack, and 13 quarterback hurries….both his dad (football) and his mom (swimming) were student-athletes at NMSU…chose NMSU over UConn, North Texas, and Nevada…coached by John Walsh…recruited to NMSU by Coach Kerry Locklin.
MY ANALYSIS: Watson has immense potential to blossom as a defensive end at NMSU, a place where few defensive linemen have made a big impact in recent years. As the son of two former Aggies, Watson is obviously excited to be wearing an NMSU uniform, but I think he’ll redshirt at first.
Tyrian Taylor, WR
- Jones High School (Orlando, Florida)
- Lindenwood University (St. Charles, Missouri)
- Ellsworth Community College (Iowa Falls, Iowa)
THE SKINNY: Finished the 2014 campaign with 61 catches for 1,029 yards and 10 scores…averaged over 16 yards per catch…played the 2013 season at Division II Lindenwood University, recording 19 catches, 165 yards and two touchdowns in only nine games…competed in both football and track in high school and was named to the Central Florida All-Star Game…scored 17 TDs as a high school senior, with over 1,000 receiving yards…played for Coach Jesse Montalto at Ellsworth…plans on majoring in biology….recruited to NMSU by Coach Todd Littlejohn.
MY ANALYSIS: Taylor, who qualified out of high school, is already enrolled in classes and will go through spring practice. He was one of the most reliable JUCO players in the country last year, and he’s looking to bring that same consistency to an experienced Aggie receiving corps.
Isaiah McIntyre, WR
- Las Cruces High School (Las Cruces, New Mexico)
THE SKINNY: Two-year starter who runs a 4.4 in the 40…caught 11 passes for 239 yards and one touchdown in his senior season before going down with a knee injury….ranked the #3 prospect in New Mexico by 247Sports and #6 by Rivals….twice participated in the NMPreps Elite Combine in Rio Rancho, New Mexico…also played safety and was a standout return specialist, returning four punts for touchdowns as a junior…also ran track, winning the state championship in the high jump as a junior and was runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles as a sophomore…coached by Jim Miller…wants to major in animal science…recruited to NMSU by Coach Kevin McKeethan.
MY ANALYSIS: One of the top players in the Land of Enchantment despite an injury-riddled senior season, McIntyre is a speedy target who could contribute early in his Aggie career. He reminds me of former Aggie Austin Franklin, who always delivered consistently despite his lack of height. McIntyre could also help return punts and kicks.
Jonathan Hood, LB
- North Crowley High School (Fort Worth, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Second team all-district pick as a senior as well as honorable mention all-state….made 92 tackles, including 64 solo tackles, as a junior, as well as three sacks, 13 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two pass breakups, one interception and a blocked field goal…made 13 tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss in 2012 as a sophomore….finished his prep career in 2014 with a 107-tackle season, including three sacks, six tackles for loss, and one pass breakup….runs a 4.46 in the 40, has a 28-inch vertical, and a 70-inch wingspan…can bench 285 pounds…coached by Eugene Rogers…recruited to NMSU by Coach Will Martin.
MY ANALYSIS: For a linebacker, Hood has exceptional speed and swarms to the football well. He’s athletic enough to drop back into coverage and can hit like a safety. He was another last-minute visit who loved what he saw at NMSU.
Shane Jackson, LB
- Manvel High School (Manvel, Texas)
THE SKINNY: First team all-district pick as a senior while helping the Mavericks to a 13-1 record and a perfect 8-0 record in their district…recorded 20 tackles and one tackle for loss as a sophomore in 2012…recorded 64 tackles, five tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, and one pass breakup in his junior season…finished his senior campaign with 50 tackles, five tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, an interception, and a pass breakup…runs a 4.59 in the 40…played for Coach Kirk Martin…chose the Aggies over Memphis and Tulsa…recruited to NMSU by Coach Zane Vance.
MY ANALYSIS: Talented playmaker who committed to NMSU back in November. I like his instincts and tackling ability, and he has quality speed. With a few more pounds on his frame, he could really make some noise.
Jackson Solbeck, TE
- Cypress Ranch High School (Houston, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Second team all-district pick who helped the Mustangs to a 13-3 overall record, including 8-1 in district play…named third team all-region in his junior season after catching five balls for 58 yards and four touchdowns…coached by Gene Johnson…chose the Aggies over Air Force, Northern Colorado, McNeese State, and Central Arkansas…recruited to NMSU by Coach Shaun Johnson.
MY ANALYSIS: Another red-zone threat who can block, run, and catch. He’s a smart kid who has an awesome work ethic and will be in line to play immediately. Look for him to work his way into a part-time starting role by the end of his freshman season.
Anthony McMeans, OL
- Greenville High School (Greenville, Alabama)
- Arizona Western College (Yuma, Arizona)
THE SKINNY: Helped the Matadors to an 11-win season in 2014…named all-league and all-conference…helped his team average over 240 rushing yards per game…played at the same junior college as Aggie quarterback Tyler Rogers…coached by Tom Minnick…recruited to NMSU by Coach Walt Wells.
MY ANALYSIS: McMeans, an early enrollee, is the heir apparent to all-conference performer Valerian Ume-Ezeoke at center. McMeans has the size, strength, and smarts to be a force on an already-solid offensive line.
Jassavia Reese, DE
- John Tyler High School (Tyler, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Made 93 tackles (62 solo) along with four tackles for loss, six sacks, a pass breakup and a forced fumble…recorded 39 total tackles as a junior, as well as a forced fumble…can bench press 300 pounds and squat 440…has a 31-inch vertical leap…runs a 4.7 in the 40…honorable mention all-conference pick…participated in the Blue/Gray Combine, the ETSN.fm Combine, and the Rivals Camp Series Dallas…also competed in track…honor roll student who was also involved in orchestra and his church youth group…coached by Rick Holmes…recruited to NMSU by Coach Will Martin.
MY ANALYSIS: Reese has excellent speed and his strength will soon be off the charts. He is probably one of the best all-around prospects in this class, and he’s only gonna get better with more muscle on his frame. A sleeper pick for sure.
Brian Trujillo, OL
- Volcano Vista High School (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
THE SKINNY: First team all-state and all-district selection as a senior….honorable mention all-area, second team all-state, and second team all-district honoree as a junior…also named honorable mention all-metro…participated in the U.S. Army All-American Combine in January 2014 and the NMPreps Rivals100 Combine in July 2013…can bench press 300 pounds and squat 405 pounds…ranked the #4 prospect in New Mexico by 247Sports…also competed in track, basketball and wrestling…involved in student senate and an honor roll student…wants to major in engineering…coached by Chad Wallin….recruited to NMSU by Coach Kevin McKeethan.
MY ANALYSIS: Trujillo plays with a chip on his shoulder, and that comes from being an under-recruited target coming out of a newer high school. He’s got great leverage and plays very fundamentally sound, in addition to having quick feet. Look for him to make an impact after his redshirt year.
Sebastian Anderson, OL
- Desert Edge High School (Goodyear, Arizona)
THE SKINNY: Named Conference 4A, Division III second team all-state…helped the Scorpions finish with an undefeated district record and a 10-2 overall mark in 2014, finishing the year ranked #22 in Arizona…also competed in basketball and baseball….coached by Rich Wellbrock….recruited to NMSU by Coach Walt Wells.
MY ANALYSIS: Anderson is another redshirt candidate at left tackle who could really develop into a quality O-lineman. He’s got the skills and can only improve as the years go by.
Tymon Locklin, WR
- Clovis North High School (Fresno, California)
THE SKINNY/MY ANALYSIS: Locklin has impressive bloodlines, as his grandfather, father, and two uncles all played for the Aggies and in the NFL. At 6’1″, Locklin has track star speed and can make the circus catch. He’s technically a grayshirt because he’s been on campus since his dad, Kerry, became NMSU’s D-line coach last fall. This semester, he’s a full-time student and will go through spring ball.
O.J. Clark, WR
- Wichita Falls High School (Wichita Falls, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Named the Class 5A, District 5 Offensive POY in 2014, scoring 14 total touchdowns…played both wide receiver and cornerback as a junior and senior, earning first team all-district honors at both positions in both years…also named the Red River 22 Defensive POY…had 930 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013…chose the Aggies after previously committing to SMU in June 2014…runs a 4.44 in the 40…coached by Danny Russell…recruited to NMSU by Coach Walt Wells.
MY ANALYSIS: In my opinion, Clark was the biggest steal of this class, as he is a spectacular athlete who was committed to SMU since June. But then, SMU had a staff change and Coach Wells came into town and convinced Clark to flip to the Aggies, which he did in December. This kid is an athletic freak who can help us out immediately at receiver and as a return specialist.
Terrill Hanks, S
- Immaculata-La Salle School (Miami, Florida)
THE SKINNY: All-conference and all-Dade County pick in 2014…made 50 tackles in 2012, his first season as a starter, along with two interceptions and a fumble recovery….recorded 50 tackles as a junior in only six games, averaging 8.3 per game…made 100 total tackles (67 solo), as well as two sacks and two picks in his senior campaign…also returned kicks and punts….runs a 4.68 in the 40…coached by William Trimmer…decommitted from Alcorn State in order to come to NMSU…also offered by Appalachian State…recruited to NMSU by Coach Todd Littlejohn.
MY ANALYSIS: Hanks, like Clark, was a big recruiting coup for us, as Coach Littlejohn described him as a diamond in the rough. And indeed, Hanks has an impressive 6’4″ frame to go along with his hard-hitting ability. He’s got the skills to play either linebacker or safety, and he’ll fit right into the modified defensive scheme that NMSU will be running in 2015.
Parker Davidson, K
- Plano West High School (Plano, Texas)
THE SKINNY: Ranked the 16th-best kicker in the country by Kohl’s Kicking…three-year starter who handled kickoffs as well as punts and kicks…hit nine out of 11 field goals in his senior year, with a long of 56 yards…also made 60 of 62 PATs….named a Class 6A first team all-state performer and the district Special Teams POY…five-time Special Teams Player of the Week in 2013 and 2014….went a perfect seven-for-seven in his junior season and 37-for-38 on PATs…second team all-district honoree as a junior…won the Kohl’s Underclassman Challenge in January 2014 with a 60-yard field goal…attended the Texas Showcase Camp in Dallas three separate times, as well as the Kohl’s National Invitational Scholarship Camp in July 2013….honor roll student with a 3.4 GPA…also ran track and played soccer…coached by Kelly Gauger…recruited to NMSU by Coach Kerry Locklin.
MY ANALYSIS: Coach Martin has preached the importance of special teams since he took the job, and Davidson can certainly help in that regard. A strong-legged kid with pinpoint accuracy, he’ll be in competition for the open placekicker job during the summer.
Izaiah Lottie, WR
- Cherokee Trail High School (Aurora, Colorado)
THE SKINNY: Played running back, wide receiver, safety, and outside linebacker, rushing for 1,135 yards and a dozen touchdowns, as well as making 32 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery…runs a 4.43 in the 40…ranked the #16 recruit in Colorado by 247Sports…also participated in basketball and track…played for Coach Monte Thelen….recruited to NMSU by Coach Kevin McKeethan.
MY ANALYSIS: A versatile athlete, Lottie came to NMSU’s summer camp last year and impressed the coaches as a wide receiver despite not having played the position frequently at the varsity level. Lottie moved to running back for the Cougars in his senior year after injuries decimated the depth chart, but he’ll play receiver for the Aggies in the coming years. I like his experience and ability, and he’s got decent size too.