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Dunn Glad To Be Back In College Game | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

Dunn Glad To Be Back In College Game

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Written by: Felix Chavez/Sun-News Reporter

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The look on his face said it all.

When Joe Lee Dunn was asked about his return to the college game after a four-month sabbatical to the high school level, he was quick to answer yes, that he was happy to be back on the Division I level.

And why shouldn't he feel good?

The venerable Dunn might not be the most talked about defensive coordinator in America, but he's certainly well-respected. He's done most of his work in the South at Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Memphis. But closer to home, he is remembered as a defensive coordinator and head coach at New Mexico. He was head coach at UNM from 1983-86, going 17-30. But he was a defensive coordinator on the 1982 team that went 10-1 and also the head of a defense in 1980 that limited the potent Brigham Young offense to 21 points in a 25-21 New Mexico win.

At one point in his life, Dunn was a college quarterback, who was once called into a game and tackled at the line of scrimmage by North Texas defensive lineman "Mean" Joe Greene, who later starred in the National Football League.

Dunn said that was a sign that he should be a coach because if a quarterback couldn't outrun a 300-pound lineman, what future did he have as a player. Dunn actually started coaching on the offensive side of the ball.

Then he made the switch, certainly a bad sign for opposing offenses.

Dunn's defenses are aggressive, hard-working and different. He'll lineup different alignments and he'll make things as tough he can.

"Coach Dunn will go into the office at 4 a.m. and look at tape and he won't just look at one play once, he'll go over that play several times and he'll look at a player several times," defensive backs coach Kendall Roberson said. "He wants to make sure he saw everything he needs too and that's what makes him successful. He pays attention to detail."

Roberson and new linebackers coach Barris Grant are familiar with Dunn and his 3-3-5 defense, having played and coached under him.

Both admire Dunn for what he has done over the years and his influence in the game. New Mexico State head coach Hal Mumme went up against Dunn's defense while at Kentucky and it wasn't always easy to move the ball.

"Coach Dunn is a good coach, he works hard and he teaches the game really well," Grant said. "I've personally learned a great deal from him and his defense works."

Dunn didn't approach Mumme about the defensive coordinator opening at NMSU, rather a friend of his in Albuquerque emailed Mumme and the head coach decided to out to Dunn.

"I'm not the type to go out and seek a job," Dunn said. "But I'm glad I'm here. I don't care where the job would have been. I just wanted to coach on the Division I level once again."

The Aggies will certainly have the firepower on offense to make opposing defenses worry about stopping them. The question is can NMSU's defense under Dunn make a difference.

Dunn admitted Wednesday that there is plenty of work left to do with the defense and that added personnel is still needed. A few workouts in the spring and three scrimmages wouldn't answer all the questions.

After all, the team last year struggled at times in all areas on that side of the ball.

But Dunn's defense can be effective when done right and the players seem to be buying into the system that seems to better fit the team's athleticism and speed.

Time will only tell and come Sept. 4 against Nicholls State, we'll find out just how far the team has come in Dunn's defense.

Felix Chavez can be reached at fchavez@lcsun-news.com