By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
J.C. Pacheco can easily remember one of the first times that Hank Baskett was tried out at wide receiver. He recalls the pure athleticism, the jumping ability, the good hands, the overall potential.
Of course, it’s a fonder memory for Pacheco than most defensive backs because the two were teammates and the occasion was a Clovis High practice session.
“It was tough, too. It was real tough,” recalls Pacheco, who attends Texas Tech. “His height — they could just throw it up and he could just go get it over me. Not only that, he was fast.”
Late in his senior season at Clovis, Baskett was switched from quarterback to wideout due to an injury — a change that has stuck through his years of playing at the University of New Mexico and, now, with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It’s weird seeing somebody play in the NFL that you actually lined up against,” said Pacheco, who now keeps in touch with Baskett by phone and e-mail.
“I’ve been a big-time Dallas fan, but I guess I can be an Eagles fan, too,” said Pacheco, who adds that if a Hank Baskett Eagles uniform ever becomes available, he would definitely wear it around Lubbock. “I keep up with the Eagles now.”
Like other former Wildcats from the 1999 and 2000 teams, Pacheco is closely following the progress of Baskett.
Thomas Roberts also keeps in touch with his former teammate through the Internet sites such as spacebook.
“I watched the draft. I actually heard that they had projected Hank going in the second round or something,” said Roberts, who — like Pacheco — was a junior on the 2000 squad in which Baskett was a senior. “When he didn’t get drafted, that really surprised me. But I’ve been real happy seeing how he’s done — I’ve been real proud of him.”
A finance major at West Texas A&M, Roberts has altered his usual summer schedule to catch preseason Philadelphia games that have been on television.
“There’s been two on and I’ve made sure I didn’t have anything to do so I could watch them,” Roberts said.
DeSean Rhoden has a couple of reasons to follow the day-to-day progress at NFL training camps. His brother is DonTrell Moore, who played at Roswell High and UNM as well.
Rhoden, who said Moore is trying to land a spot with Chicago, was a year younger than Baskett when played at Clovis.
When Baskett went undrafted in April, it was a long day for his supporters as well.
“I couldn’t believe it — him or my brother (also undrafted),” Rhoden said. “He (Baskett) not only has height, but he also has body size. Not getting drafted — there was just something not right about that.”