Lots of chatter about Zach Daugherty electing to go to the University of New Mexico over New Mexico State.
My initial thoughts? I was surprised. I thought he would come to NMSU for a few reasons:
1) It's his hometown
2) DeWayne Walker is a defensive-minded coach
3) NMSU needs help at linebacker, giving him a legitimate shot at playing time right off the bat
In reality, Las Cruces being Zach's hometown was a big reason the kid left. He wanted to branch out and get a new experience under his belt. Can anyone blame him for feeling that way? I know I can't.
As for the other two factors, I think they are legitimate. Both NMSU and UNM are going through massive transformations on the football field. If it were the last few years, with Hal Mumme and Rocky Long at the helm of their respective programs, that would be a different story. If Long was still in Albuquerque, it would be the ideal fit. Go to a unique defensive system, to a coach that frankly was able to get a lot of his players to overachieve. That would make perfect sense. Who knows what you're getting at UNM now. The Lobos have just as many question marks as the Aggies, in my eyes. The hope is that, in time, Walker will mold NMSU into a tough-minded defensive team.
Who knows how he would have fared at NMSU. I think Zach will be a solid D-I football player. A middle linebacker? Time will tell where he fits in and in what role. But I do think he will be a factor during his career in Albuquerque.
Moving forward, how does NMSU attract more New Mexico players to its program? That's easy. You gotta win. You gotta beat the Lobos, you gotta beat UTEP, you gotta get a positive buzz surrounding your program. If you do that, kids will come play here. Easy answer. Concocting that winning formula can be a bit more elusive. They'll get another shot at it in two months.