The University of New Mexico football team has hosted its training camp at White Mountain Athletic Complex the last two years, headquartering at the Lodge at Sierra Blanca and the Ruidoso Convention Center for two full weeks, preparing for the upcoming season.
With the departure of Mike Locksley, there may have been some concern as to whether they would return to the sanctuary of Ruidoso to prepare, but new coach Bob Davie laid those fears to rest once he heard the report from two of his coaches.
“Brian DeSpain (director of football operations) and Ben Hilgart (strength coach), visited and raved about the setting and facilities,” Davie said. “I’ve heard enough positive things since I first took the job in December about Ruidoso.”
Davie said coming to Ruidoso is more than about getting away to a beautiful location, it’s about getting off of campus and being able to focus on nothing but football for two weeks before the beginning of the season.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that college football players are on campus all year round,” Davie said. “They stick around all summer, and getting them away from the campus for a training camp is a great thing.”
Davie, who came to UNM from a career in broadcasting for ESPN, previously coached at Notre Dame and Texas A&M, and has a tall order in taking over a Lobo program that has won just three games in the last three years.
But Davie brings with him a reputation for defensive intensity – he was the defensive coordinator while at Texas A&M, where the Aggies led the nation in defense in 1993 and was known as the “Wrecking Crew.” He hopes to bring that same level of intensity to the Lobos.
Players Davie has returning include Joe Harris, an offensive lineman and pass rusher that will integrate well into the defensive scheme. Nose tackle Reggie Ellis, a senior transfer from Illinois who came in with Locksley, has stayed on and is also hoping to contribute in a big way.
Artesia’s Dallas Bollema is an inside linebacker who was the third-leading tackler last year, even though he missed a couple of games due to injury.
There are several offensive players back for their senior years, including quarterback B.R. Holbrook, who is back from knee surgery.
Another player battling the injury bug last season was wide receiver Lamaar Thomas, a transfer from Ohio State who broke his foot and played only four games. He’s healthy again and will be at camp.
Tight end Lucas Reed was an all conference player in 2010, but last season, teams keyed on him and kept him from making a big impact. This year, Davie hopes to do a better job establishing the run, which would allow Reed a bit more breathing room in the flat.
Every one of these players will arrive at the Lodge at Sierra Blanca Aug. 5 to get settled in for an intense two weeks of practice and play at White Mountain Athletic Complex. They’ll be here until Aug. 17, and all practices are open to the public.
“Anyone that’s followed Lobo football realizes it will take time to rebuild the program,” Davie said. “It didn’t get to this state overnight, and it won’t get fixed overnight. It will take time, but I’ve been pleased with how the players have done what we’ve asked them to do. It hasn’t been perfect, but overall it is positive.”