Lobos coach Gonzales has four recruits from New Mexico, including two RRHS Rams
The third time certainly looks like the charm for Danny Gonzales and the UNM football coaching staff.
After a late start in 2019 after getting hired the day before National Signing Day and then dealing with recruiting while stationed in Las Vegas, this year was a return to the norm.
The NLI class for 2022 certainly reflects it, as Gonzales and company announced 24 signees for the 2022 season.
The class features 19 high school seniors; three junior college transfers, two of whom are sophomores; and a pair of Division I transfers. The class features a cadre of New Mexico players, including Tyler Kiehne, who redshirted at UCLA in 2021, plus Hunter Haemker, Rio Rancho High’s standout offensive tackle Cayden Romero and his Rams teammate, Gatorade’s New Mexico Player of the Year Zach Vigil.
The signing of Vigil means that the Lobos have the last three New Mexico Players of the Year on the squad and on scholarship in Isaiah Chavez (2019), Luke Wysong (Spring 2021) and now Vigil (Fall 2021).
“This was our first time as a staff where we really got to meet kids and parents and showcase our facilities and all of the great things about Lobo football,” said Gonzales.
“We have great facilities and we have a vision of where our program is going, and this is a great class because these are young men that want to be here and want to be Lobos.”
That new Rio Rancho connection was aided by former Rams head coach Dave Howes, an assistant to Gonzales at UNM.
“I have four areas to recruit: Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico,” Howes explained. “I was fortunate enough to be able to recruit both of these guys.
“It’s definitely an exciting time for Rio Rancho as a community. … Cayden was at work since his sophomore year simply because of his size and athleticism,” Howes continued. “More importantly, he has really great grades and solid character that I’ve witnessed for a long time.”
As for Vigil, whose family moved to Rio Rancho from Los Lunas, Howes said, “Zach is not much different and well-rounded.
“He had many goals, but being Gatorade Player of the Year and a part of two state championship games was icing on the cake,
“Both players come from terrific support systems and families. Obviously, they were a no-brainer to try and keep local — Coach Gonzales has a vision of the players that fit the ‘Lobo Way’ and these two young men exemplify this vision.”
The class is split evenly with 12 players on the offensive side and 12 on the defensive side. On offense, UNM signed six linemen, two running backs, one receiver, one quarterback, one tight end and one athlete. On defense UNM signed three defensive linemen, three linebackers, two corners, two safeties and two athletes.
This class of 24 come from nine states; California (6), Texas (6) and New Mexico (4) had the most. UNM signed two from Oklahoma, two from Florida and one each from Kansas, Mississippi, Georgia and Massachusetts.
Here are All-State guys from Rio Rancho
When your city has the best two football teams in it, it’s only natural to assume a lot of postseason honors will come your way.
Indeed, when the New Mexico High School Coaches Association released its All-State players — first and second teams, plus honorable mention picks — Class 6A state champion Cleveland High had a dozen players honored, while state runner-up Rio Rancho High School had 13.
Here are the picks for each school:
Cleveland High School Storm
First team/offense: Center Aidan Valdez; offensive linemen Sawyer Jones and Charles Sanchez; tight end Michael Ortiz; slot receiver Nic Trujillo; quarterback Evan Wysong.
First team/defense: Linemen Max Gillert and Kendal Ulmer; Devonte Shendo in the secondary; and linebackers Dominic Vasquez and Stratton Shufelt.
Second team: Running back Lucious Dickson; punter Evan Wysong.
Rio Rancho High School Rams
First team/offense: Lineman Cayden Romero; running back Zach Vigil.
First team/defense: Lineman Nathan Hontanosas; linebacker Carlos Archuleta; Chris Fox and Lucas Lucero in the secondary.
Second team: Marcus Wright in the secondary; offensive lineman Adrian McNeeley; inside linebacker Chris Montoya; receiver Mikey Wood; slot receiver Devin Rice.
Honorable mention: Inside linebacker Fabiano Valdez; Isaiah Padilla in the secondary.