PORTALES — Their numbers are relatively small overall, but several area athletes could make noteworthy contributions to Eastern New Mexico University football next fall.
First-team All-Lone Star Conference linebacker Jeff Howard of Portales and defensive end Larry Roybal of Fort Sumner, both of whom will be seniors, are already proven commodities. But veteran coach Bud Elliott said several others had solid spring practice seasons and have positioned themselves well for the fall.
Howard, a two-year starter and the son of ENMU offensive coordinator Mike Howard, led the Greyhounds in tackles in 2003 with 85.
“I think he’s probably one of the very best inside linebackers in the Lone Star Conference, and one of the better ones in the country,” Elliott said of Howard. “Jeff’s turned into a real good leader.”
Roybal saw considerable backup duty last season after a knee injury sidelined him for the entire 2002 campaign Elliott said that at this point he has a good chance to start.
“I think Larry is back to his old self,” Elliott said. “He just really turned it up this spring, and he could be one of the top defensive ends in the league.”
Freshman redshirt Bobby Reed of Floyd is playing behind some quality players at outside linebacker, including senior Adrian Quigley.
“Bobby really had a good spring game,” Elliott said. “I can see him helping our special teams next fall, and eventually getting some time at outside linebacker.”
On offense, redshirt freshman running back Fide Davalos of Floyd is likely to back up returning starters Dwayne Davis and Jason Tezeno again in 2004. He could see more time than a year ago, when he rushed for 79 yards and caught six passes.
“Fide’s had an awful good spring, and he’s one of our top four offensive backs,” Elliott said. “He’s a pretty good ballcarrier, and he’s developed into a pretty good blocker.”
Elliott said Less Long of Portales, who redshirted in 2003, could earn playing time in the backfield if he develops more overall consistency. He said Long had some good moments in the spring, and has the talent to be a good player at the Division II level.
Also, Fort Sumner sophomore Price Carter played well at tight end during the spring and should enter preseason drills in August as the backup behind returning starter Art Tennison, Elliott said.
“Price has really made a move, and I think he’s going to be a dandy for us,” he said. “Price is a good blocker, runs really good routes and has good hands.”