Hounds looking for line help

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Eastern New Mexico University is hoping to sign 15 to 20 prospects today, the first day players can sign a letter of intent to play college football.

Among them will be Portales’ running back Jesus Davalos, who looked at the University of New Mexico briefly before making the hometown choice.

“It’s close to home, so I wouldn’t have to leave my home atmosphere,” said Davalos, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a injury-shortened season. “Why would I go look for college when there’s one right here?”

Greyhound coach Mark Ribaudo, who cannot comment on unsigned prospects, said he is looking mostly for help on the offensive and defensive line.

“But,” Ribaudo said, “you take what you can get. You never know when you’re going to have a dry year. Sometimes you can take them when you can get them.”

The Hounds, who finished 3-8 last season, are looking for quarterback help as well, following the dismissal of starting quarterback J.J. Harp last month. Wes Wood, who saw limited duty as a freshman, has the leg up for the starting role, though Ribaudo said nothing’s guaranteed.

“We’re going to see what happens this spring,” Ribaudo said. “Wes played in some games, so he’s obviously got the edge. But we’re going to let some kids slug it out.”

Ribaudo said he’s been making a lot of offers to New Mexico and Texas players, but he appears to be getting more commitments from Texas. The college can offer in-state tuition to Texas players living within a 135-mile radius.

Another local product, Clovis High’s Matt Southard, will play a little farther south with New Mexico Military Institute’s junior college program.

Jesus’ older brother, Fide Davalos, played for the Greyhounds from 2003 to 2006, but the younger Davalos said his older brother stayed out of college conversations to avoid swaying his choices.

Portales coach Andy Correll thinks the 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior can be an impact player in time.

“He’s got a lot to bring to the table,” Correll said. “Speed of the game will be quite a bit different, but he could definitely help them out. I’m excited for him.”

Davalos combined for more than 2,500 yards rushing and receiving in helping Portales win the Class 3A state title in 2008.