Hounds add local flavor in recruiting

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

In their second wave of recruting, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo has added local flavor.

The third-year Greyhounds coach said around 52 freshmen are expected to report for practice Aug. 5.

All told, about 130 players will be on hand for the start of drills.

Among the area players coming in are wide receiver-defensive back Hunter Rackler and linebacker Taylor Teague of Portales, defensive end Michael Lewis and center Brandon Ayers of Clovis and running back Justin Garrison of Texico.

“It’s nice to have some area kids,” Ribaudo said.

Garrison, who helped Texico reach the Class 1A state finals two years ago as a junior, said he was delighted to be offered a chance to play at ENMU.

“I was so happy they would accept me, coming from a small town,” Garrison said. “I just wanted to stay close to home, and I’ve always been a Greyhound fan.”

While Garrison, who is in Silver City preparing for Saturday’s Class 1A-2A New Mexico High School Coaches Association all-star game, knows his work will be cut out when practice starts.

“That’s what competition is all about,” he said.

Ribaudo said that of the late signees, several could be impact players, including the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Lewis.

“I think he can contribute,” Ribaudo said. “He played well for (Clovis coach Eric) Roanhaus.”

Among other late additions he thinks could help include quarterbacks Corey Baker of San Antonio and Anthony Ramos of Canyon, Texas, and middle linebacker Dustin Bohannon of Amarillo High.

Ribaudo said Ramos was a record-setting quarterback at Canyon. He and Baker would be competing with senior Michael Benton, who has started the last two seasons for ENMU.

“Dustin Bohannon was the district player of the year at Amarillo High,” Ribaudo said. “He had 145 tackles last year. He’s a good football player.”

Coaching changes

The Hounds have several coaching changes going into the season. Linebacker coach-defensive co-ordinator Mike Walton has accepted an assistant’s position at Division I-AA Sam Houston State, running backs coach Josh White will be the offensive co-ordinator at Golden West (Calif.) Community College and secondary coach Eric Boll has resigned his position to add cross country duties to his track position.

Ribaudo added that grad assistant Jason Shumaker has left to take a position as offensive co-ordinator at NAIA member St. Mary’s (Kan.).

Notes: ENMU opens its season on Aug. 25 against Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla. The home opener will be a Thursday night outing against Northeastern State on Sept. 7,