Peter Dindinger – NMMI Sports Press
Plenty of junior college student athletes relish an opportunity to continue their careers at a four-year university.
By the end of the semester, the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco football team will have sent 38 kids to the next level.
"That's what we're here for," said NMMI head football coach Joe Forchtner. "That's the whole purpose of this place when it's all said and done is to be a stepping stone to the next level. To get guys placed is huge. Once we stop having success placing guys then I think we lose our ability to recruit guys.
"To me, anything mid 20's or higher is a pretty good year. I'm proud of those guys. Making it to the next level is a big accomplishment."
So far, 10 players have signed on to NCAA Division I schools.
- Fred Jackson (RB): Coastal Carolina
- Zach Fryar (TE): UTEP
- Daemahni Williams (DB), Lazarus Williams (DL), James Blowers (DB): New Mexico State
- Jaren Banks (LB): Rice
- Junior Aho (DL): SMU
- Quintin King (OL): Mississippi Valley State
- Edouard Paradis (OL): Houston Baptist
- Francisco Moreno-Gonzalez (WR): North Carolina Central University
Another 12 players are headed to Division II institutions. Three of the dozen will be attending Eastern New Mexico University.
Of note, local products Victor Bolaños and Diego Miranda, who attended Roswell High and Goddard, respectively, are both heading east to Portales.
Defensive back and Canadian Zach Philion is moving on to Concordia University in Montreal where his dad, Ed, is a defensive coordinator.
The Broncos finished 6-5 overall this past season after knocking off third-ranked Kilgore College in the first round of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs, making their first-ever appearance in the conference championship.
One thing that separated this team from others is how they overcame obstacles to finish strong.
"They probably grew more than any group," Forchtner said. "We've had a lot of groups of guys coming through here, but I don't think over the course of the season we've had a group grow more.
"In that regard, I wish we could've started the way that we ended. We also overcame a lot. It took a little bit of time to gel."
Granted some great opportunities, these young men will have to finish out their academic careers at NMMI before moving on to bigger things.
It'll be a culture shock for most of the players, but coach Forchtner believes his guys are ready for the challenge.
"I think they're definitely prepared," he said. "To me, if we let something slide that they won't be able to slide with at the next level then we're doing them a disservice.
"I think they are as prepared as they could be. They'll still have a lot of growing to do though."
Keeping it local
This year's recruiting class features 25 players from New Mexico.
NMMI has recruited some of the top players from Clovis, Roswell, Las Cruces and Albuquerque, to name a few.
"We hit it all, from top to bottom," said Forchtner about recruiting throughout the state. "I want the best players in New Mexico. I want to take care of the local guys, too. I think our team chemistry is better when we have a lot of New Mexico guys.
"I like taking care of the home turf. I would like to have as many New Mexico guys as we can possibly get. I feel like we got a good New Mexico crew coming in."