When the New Mexico State Aggies wrap up a tough football season, the question becomes, why doesn’t the team look more in-state for its football talent?
These cries become inherently louder when locally there’s high school football success, and such was the case once again this year when Las Cruces High won yet another state championship two weeks ago.
Again, after a year such as last, these complaints could have validity. What’s the difference between a 5-foot-9 athlete that runs a mediocre 40-yard dash time, whether he’s coming from California or New Mexico?
At a school like NMSU, where coaches, administrators and the athletics department as a whole are asked to do more with less, combing the state for any conceivable football talent would seem a good idea. We go back to the Rocky Long era at the University of New Mexico, where he would bulk up his roster with New Mexico athletes and have relative success doing so.
Some received scholarships, some were walk-ons. Some became standouts (Brian Urlacher, Hank Baskett) some were just contributors and others were roster fillers. But it’s about taking what you have and working under those circumstances. There could be some immediate resources nearby that can help, yet are being overlooked or thought over.
Is it the ticket to football prominence? Perhaps it’s a step towards that goal, although believing it’s the means to an end would appear wishful.
Expanding the Aggies recruiting footprint would also seem important. The days of looking into two states for football talent — California and Texas — seems dated, and has also proven not to work at NMSU. Newsflash: The Aggies aren’t winning with such a strategy.
More of a national recruiting philosophy, where going to different areas of the country and attracting different players is a very appealing idea on the surface. Two of the Aggies best linemen in recent memory didn’t come from California or Texas. No, Tony Wragge and Nick Cole both hailed from the midwest, and were great players at NMSU before moving onto the NFL ranks.
Of course, such a philosophy takes connections and resources that might not be readily available, yet also seem important.
Alas, whether you’re recruiting at the school down the road, or seven states away, quality recruiting is ultimately the lifeblood of a program. Forget following a website and chasing names that appear to be sought after by various competitors. It’s about having quality connections, and possessing an eye for talent that may be overlooked, yet can work within your model.
Generally speaking for Aggie football, the team’s OK from a starting-lineup standpoint. Yes, these players can typically hold their own against the competition. It’s about the players after them on the roster — developing quality depth — that makes a football team one to be reckoned with over the long haul. The Aggies had six players make the All-WAC team this past year — a high number coming from a 1-11 club. They need a few more to build off that base, and have to find a way to get them any way possible.
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