Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal
Danny Gonzales will say it – that wasn’t exactly the plan.
It wasn’t until 2020 when he stepped into his role as New Mexico football’s head coach, with gradual player development his central focus. Nor was it just a little over a year ago when the Lobos added 22 new players through the transfer portal.
But things are changing. Plans are changed. And now more than ever, the guards are turning.
“I say it all the time: If you’re going to be a good coach, you’re going to get good players,” Gonzales said.
In doing so, New Mexico announced 13 more transfers Wednesday afternoon to bring their total haul to 18 after the 45-day fall transfer portal window closed on Jan. 18. All transfers are registered at UNM for the spring semester and will be eligible to participate in spring practice.
Including both the transfers and 11 initial recruits, the Lobos’ 2023 class currently has 28 players. Gonzales indicated that four to six players would be added on National Signing Day (Feb. 1) with a willingness to use the 15-day transfer window in May to address potential needs discovered during spring training.
With previous seasons in mind, Gonzales admitted they have embraced a “drastic” change in roster construction, but expressed excitement about the impact these new additions could have on the program.
“We’ve adjusted our model to be able to get more kids that can compete right now instead of developing them over a four-year period,” he said. “I said at the very beginning that we are going to a conference championship, and you may have to deviate and adjust along the way.
“Well, we made a big adjustment.”
A pair of former four-star recruits and safeties in Bryson Washington (Oklahoma) and D’Arco Perkins-McAllister (TCU) account for the new portal additions. Washington appeared in 16 games over two seasons for the Sooners, while Perkins-McAllister played in 20 games over two seasons with the Horned Frogs.
The Lobos added two more TCU transfers in wide receiver Caleb Medford and safety Marvin Covington. Gonzales cited relationships with former TCU head coach (and one-time New Mexico assistant) Gary Patterson, current TCU head coach Sonny Dykes and TCU special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl to help facilitate three additions from the national runners-up.
“That’s the biggest thing about the transfer portal that gets scary,” Gonzales said. “You’re recruiting kids that you don’t get to build a relationship with for as long because they might not be on the transfer portal (as long). But when they come with people that you trust, it’s a big (help).
The Lobos added another Power 5 transfer on defense with defensive lineman/defensive end Gabriel Lopez (Washington State) and a group of 5 transfer with wide receiver Ryan Davis (UAB). Davis will be reunited with Dylan Hopkins, his former quarterback with UAB.
New Mexico also picked up a unique prospect in tight end Magnus Geers (Temple). A native of Zurich, Switzerland, Geers is the first registered Swiss-born player at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. He initially learned how to play the game by watching YouTube videos.
“Thank goodness for things like FaceTime audio where you can talk overseas without it costing you money,” Gonzales said of Geers’ recruitment.
The Lobos brought in seven players from the JUCO ranks, with four on the defensive side of the ball and three on the offensive side. Linebacker Mihalis Santorineos (Sierra College), safety Aaron Smith (Mt. San Antonio College), defensive lineman Hunter Rapolla (Mt. San Jacinto College) and linebacker Dimitri Johnson (Santa Rosa Junior College) will serve to bolster their respective position groups in their first FBS seasons.
Offensively, former Cleveland High School standout and 2018 Gatorade New Mexico Football Player of the Year Dorian Lewis (Coffeyville Community College) will look to play a role in his hometown college’s backfield, while wide receiver DJ Washington (Iowa Central Community College) provides a second receiving option for a team looking to take shots down the field.
Gonzales also clarified that any player who entered the transfer portal from New Mexico at the end of the 2022 season will not return.
The Lobos, coming off a 2-10 season, begin spring practice on February 14.
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