Eastern’s Touchstone earns academic honor

By Dave Wagner

Eastern New Mexico University junior Ty Touchstone remembers getting a “B” — once.

“It was a class for citizenship (in grade school),” he said. “But I don’t really count that.”

Touchstone has had nothing but “A’s” through four semesters at ENMU, where he also plays free safety for the Greyhounds in football. Last week, he was named to the first-team Academic All-America football squad (college division) by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Eastern SID Robert McKinney said Touchstone is believed to be the first ENMU player to be so honored. He was a second-team selection in 2002.

“I was pretty surprised,” he said. “Coach (Bud) Elliott called me Wednesday night, and I got the message on Thanksgiving. I wasn’t expecting it.”

A graduate of Lubbock Monterey High School, Touchstone said he earned 22 credits before he started at ENMU. As a result, he plans to graduate on time in May 2005.

A business administration major with an emphasis in computer information systems, he said he’s unsure of his immediate future when he graduates.

“I was kind of hoping to go into something in computers,” he said. “Now I’m thinking about going on to get a Master’s (degree). But I’m not sure yet.”

Touchstone was a Class 5A honorable mention all-state selection and the district player of the year on defense as a senior at Monterey. He also was an academic all-state selection that year.

“He is not only a good student of the game of football, he’s also a great student in the classroom,” said ENMU offensive coordinator Mike Howard, who monitors academic progress for the team. “He exemplifies the Eastern New Mexico University philosophy of ‘graduating and winning.’ He is a winner on and off the field.”

Touchstone got his chance to play at ENMU in 2002 after returning starter Jonathon Solis, the Hounds’ leading tackler the year before, was forced to sit out the season with an injury. Touchstone led ENMU in tackles (109) and interceptions (four) en route to All-Lone Star Conference South Division honors.

This year, with the two players often sharing time, they finished second and third on the team in tackles behind junior linebacker Jeff Howard.

They played together at times when the Hounds went with a nickel defense (five defensive backs), but Touchstone admitted it was tough for coaches to find enough playing time for both.

ENMU lost its final three games this fall, but finished 6-5 for its sixth consecutive winning season.

“Jonathon is a senior, and I understand being able to share time,” he said. “But it was frustrating because we weren’t always able to be on the field at the same time.”