bleedCrimson.net: Your overall thoughts on the class?
DeWayne Walker: Offensively we went heavy wide receiver and offensive line. We just needed to continue to get more depth on the offensive line. We had some injuries last year that kind of hurt us that we weren't quite prepared for. So we wanted to focus on that piece of it. Wide receiver, we need more playmakers. We basically have to reboot the wide receiver position just to give us a chance to score some points and to be more versatile. I would say offensively those were the two positions we wanted to address.
Defensively, secondary-wise I felt we needed to get more bodies in the secondary. We had a couple injuries there last year, we were thin back there toward the end of the year. We definitely got some guys to provide more competition and depth at that position.
We wanted to get one more linebacker. We may sign another linebacker here after today but the one we did get, Alexander Lavoy, we think he's gonna be a really good player for us and we're expecting him to come in and be a contributor right away and try to help upgrade our linebacker position.
We signed a couple defensive ends to try to get a little bit more pass rush outside. There's a chance we make take another defensive tackle if we can find one down the road.
We just felt like there were quite a bit of needs. It's tough to try to get all of them at the same time but we tried to be very strategic with who we went after and who we could get and we tried to mix not with only our needs but also players that can come in and make us more competitive.
Kemonte Bateman, WR, 6-1, 185, Los Angeles, Calif. (Pasadena JC/Crenshaw HS)
Kemonte, I've been following him since high school, Crenshaw HS in L.A., when I was at UCLA, he was a guy that was high on our list. He was forced to go the junior college route. I just managed to follow him. He's a very polished receiver. I don't think that's going to be his problem at all. He's pretty polished. I think we need that added into our offensive attack. I expect him to come in and be a contributor right away. He's not an NFL player obviously because he still has some work to do but I tell you what, his routes and his understanding of that position, he's pretty advanced for a kid his age. We're looking forward to getting him in and putting some work in.
Brandon Betancourt, RB, 5-11, 185, Las Cruces, N.M. (Mayfield HS)
He's a young kid that has a lot of skill. He's a very good space player, he has good speed, he has very good hands. He's pretty athletic. His challenge is going to be just coming in and being able to compete at the college level. I think that's going to be his challenge but in terms of athletic ability, he brings that to the table already.
James Calhoun, WR, 5-11, 180, Riverside, Calif. (Riverside JC/North HS)
He's another space player. A lot of people say he's compared to DeSean Jackson. he's a great punt returner, very good quickness. He's a guy that we're expecting some playmaking ability at that position.
Houston Clemente, OL, 6-1, 285, Honolulu, Hawai’i (St. Louis HS)
He's a kid that we like. He's a grayshirt candidate, just depending on how our numbers come about. He's a kid that we may bring in in January. He's a big body guy, he's very athletic for a big man and we think he's going to develop into a pretty good college player.
Travaughn Colwell, QB, 6-3, 185, Manvel, Texas (Manvel HS)
He's a dual threat. He's a guy that can get you first downs with his legs. We feel like his passing is good enough at this stage of his career that Coach Dunbar is going to do a good job of bringing him along from a throwing perspective. It's going to be interesting with him coming in as the number three. We'll see how well he can grasp our offense and see what he can do from a competition standpoint.
Andy Cunningham, OL, 6-4, 290, Frisco, Texas (Frisco HS)
He's a big body, he's 6-3, 6-4 kid about 300 pounds and he's a big man as a young man. We're hoping he can come in and get acclimated to provide depth for us right away. Physically, I don't think that's going to be his problem. Physically he's like a college player already. It's just a matter of coming in and learning all of our schemes and getting himself into a competitive situation.
Anthony Edwards, DB, 6-0, 185, Lancaster, Calif. (Antelope Valley College)
He's a guy that we want to come in and start for us. He's an All-State corner, MVP of his team, he's a big kid about six feet, 185. He's got a lot of savvy, he plays with a lot of instinct. We're hoping he can come in and compete for a starting job this summer.
Jeremy Harris, DB, 6-2, 180, Dorsey, Calif. (East Los Angeles JC/Dorsey HS)
We feel the same way about him. These two JC corners, we want them to come in and compete for starting positions even though we have Jonte Green coming back and we're going to move Donyae Coleman outside so they'll be our starting corners for the spring but we want to create some competition at that position with those two JC corners.
bc.net: A lot of times you seen secondary players at the non-BCS level that are under six feel, these two defensive backs are both over six feet. How important in your mind is size in a defensive back?
DW: I think it's very important. When you start playing against receivers that are 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3, you like to match height for height. If you have an equally good 5-9 corner compared to a 6-0 corner you always take the six footer. Having Davon House and even Jonte Green to a certain degree, we have corners who have a little height, we just feel that puts a little pressure on the wide receivers, especially from a bump and run standpoint. Plus both these guys are physical, they'll come up and tackle. These two guys are pretty physical guys, to be six footers, they're pretty physical. To go along with their height we also like their physicality.
Abram Holland, DT, 6-2, 260, Rio Rancho, N.M. (V. Sue Cleveland HS)
He's a 6-2, 275, 285 pound defensive tackle that I think is going to be a good player. Again, you could put him in the class with Betancourt. With these young kids you just never know how they're going to respond to the college game but I really like his athleticism and he's going to have to learn how to play every play but when he gets to college I think he's going to learn to do that. We think he's a steal. With some development he has a chance to be a good player.
Matthew Jaramillo, TE/QB, 6-5, 245, Albuquerque, N.M. (West Mesa HS)
He's a dual player. He played quarterback in high school but we're also going to take a good look at him at tight end. He's a 6-3, 6-4 kid so physically I'm not so sure how intimidating he's going to be going against college guys, it's just a matter of him learning and getting acclimated to whatever position that we end up playing him at but we're going to take a look at him at both spots but if he can help us as a freshman at tight end, that's where we're going to play him.
Alexander LaVoy, LB, 6-2, 230, Reno, Nev. (Butte C.C./McQueen HS)
I'm expecting big things out of him, I'm expecting him to come in and start for us, I really do. He's had a very good junior college career, he's been very productive, he's a 6-2, 230 pound linebacker which we haven't had that since I've been here. He's going to give us an opportunity to keep rebuilding that linebacker position.
Joseph Matthews, WR, 6-1, 175, Tucson, Ariz. (Rincon HS)
Another receiver that we took, another young kid that we're going to give an opportunity. When you look around college football that's probably one position, along with running backs, that young kids can play early. That's definitely a position where we're going throw those wideouts out there and may the best man win.
Faison McKinnis, OL, 6-7, 300, Frisco, Texas (Centennial HS)
He's a big 6-7, 310 pound offensive tackle. He's a guy that we definitely want to put behind [Aundre] McGaskey and let him learn from a senior and provide some depth and hopefully McGaskey will have a good senior season and McKinnis will step right in there after McGaskey graduates.
Germi Morrison, RB, 6-0, 191, Panorama City, Calif. (LA Valley College/Monroe HS)
We expect him to come in and help carry the load with Kenny [Turner] and [Robert] Clay and whoever else is steps up at that position. We're expecting big things out of Germi. He's a slasher. He has enough speed to get into the secondary and do some good things but I think he's more of a slasher and he brings a little more size. He's about a 200 or 205 pounder that we think was a steal for us.
Samuel Oyenuga, DB, 5-10, 165, Rowlett, Texas (Rowlett HS)
I tell you, he's tough. I've coached a lot of Nigerian players and I've hit a home run on every last one of them. He's a young kid, he's a pretty physical player. It's a little tougher for freshmen at the cornerback position to come in and player but this kid has something to him. We're pretty anxious to see him once the camp starts.
Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, OL, 6-2, 267, Garland, Texas (Garland Lakeview Centennial High School)
He's a tough. He's very intelligent. Another Nigerian kid that's just very smart and tough. We're expecting him to come in and back up Grady at center right away. We're excited about him. He was getting phone calls all the way up until 6:00 this morning. He's gonna be a pretty good player for us.
Lester White, DB, 6-2, 200, Riverside, Calif. (Riverside JC/North HS)
Lester was a kid that we recruited at UCLA along with Kemonte Bateman. Unfortunately they had to go the JC route but Lester is a playmaker. We've gotta get Lester in here and teach him the defense and get him going because he definitely brings not only physicality but he also brings playmaking ability as well.
Sean Brown, DE, 6-5, 253, Oakland, Calif. (Chabot College/Oakland Tech.)
We needed some more presence on the corner and obviously he's a guy that is gonna have to come in and help even though we have [Donte] Savage and [Pierre] Fils back, this is going to be their third year starting, we felt like we needed a little more competition at that position and Sean is going to be able to do that.
bc.net: At 6'5", Sean is one of the taller defensive linemen that the Aggies have had in quite a few years.
DW: I've been around, and by no means is he a Michael Strahan, but he has that kind of frame and he's a big man. Mike's about 6-4, 6-5 and Mike, when he would come off the edge, it would be pretty scary. We're expecting the same thing out of Sean to give us more of a presence coming off the edge.
Andrew Kersten, OL, 6-6, 305, Minneapolis, Minn. (El Camino JC/Washburn)
We brought him in to be a starter for us as a guard. He's on campus right now and getting acclimated to what we're trying to accomplish and we're excited about him. We're going to get him to work pretty quick.
Jackson KaKa, TE, 6-4, 210, Kahuku, Hawai’i (Kahuku HS)
Jackson is a kid we took from Hawai'i, we grayshirted him last year. He's about 6-3, 6-4 and about 220 or 225 pounds. He's just a very good pass catcher. He can run routs, he can catch. He's pretty athletic. He's a young kid and we'll have to find out in spring practice how he adapts to college football
Adam Shapiro, WR, 6-0, 175, Rio Rancho, N.M. (Rio Rancho HS)
I think he has the state records for receptions, he had 93 catches. He's another kid that we grayshirted and he's on campus for us right now. He wanted to get an early start to show what he can do at receiver until these other receivers show up to camp. We're pretty excited about watching him this spring and seeing what he can do.
Daniel English, WR, 6-3, 190, New Westminster, B.C. (New Westminster Secondary)
You can put him in the same category as Shapiro, another grayshirt receiver that we took last year and he's on campus right now. He's a bigger kid which gives us a little more size. We're definitely hoping he can come in and compete because we definitely like his size at the wide receiver position.
bc.net: Out of this year's class, who are the one or two kids that you really feel like are the steals of the class?
DW: I like the receivers. It's kind of hard, we're looking at it more as a group than individuals. We're gonna need a group of guys to come in and really be able to get us over the hump. I like what we did at the receiver position. I like the secondary guys. Lavoy is going to be critical for us at linebacker and I think Andrew Kersten is going to be real critical for us at the offensive guard position, and Lester White at safety. We need all these guys to come in and fit in for us pretty quick once they get on campus.
bc.net: Obviously it's hard to compare talent levels across classes at the different places you've been at but how would you grade this class of guys you have coming in?
DW: When you look at Kemonte Bateman, he was recruited by BCS schools out of high school. I would think he's a BCS-type player, Lester White was recruited by BCS schools out of high school so you would thicken he's a BCS-type player. Andrew Kersten is a big 'ol offensive lineman that could have played at some comparable schools. I think there are some guys in this class that are some pretty good players. I think Lavoy could have played at a Mountain West school. I think a lot of the guys we've taken in this class could have played a conference or two above the WAC, personally. We're just hoping they can come in and perform at that level for us to help us improve our football team.
bc.net: How successful were you at getting the guys you were targeting? I know you lost one player late to Hawai'i.
DW: Yeah, we lost another kid to Purdue, we lost another kid to SMU. We were in some battles with some pretty good schools. Some of the kids we did get, we beat Hawai'i on a couple kids, we beat Utah State, we did beat some teams in our conference on a couple kids as well. We had to compete for 75 percent of the kids in our class and I would say the rest of the class we just trusted our eye for talent and we feel like some of these kids are steals that kind of landed in our laps. Hopefully our eye turns out to be pretty good with the kids that we've taken because they're going to have to come in and be contributing for us right away.
bc.net: With the kids that you've signed, what's been the one thing that has really sold them on coming to New Mexico State?
DW: To build. To help us build. These kids, they weren't afraid to join up with our players and our coaching staff to build a program and that says a lot about these kids because a lot of these kids could have gone to other places. I would say most of our class had other places they could have gone to and they wanted to come here and compete and help us build something. That says a lot about the type of kids we have in this class.
bc.net: You mentioned that you might be going after a couple more positions, are you full in terms of scholarships filled or do you still have a couple available?
DW: We've talked to a couple kids who we're thinking of making grayshirts. We'll talk more about that tomorrow when we see our numbers and see where we are. If we can we may look for another linebacker and maybe another defensive tackle but we want to see where our numbers are.