Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

search for hidden treasure.(Sports)

Byline: Stories by Greg Archuleta Of the Journal

UNM is not an elite footballprogram, so its hunt for talentis that much harder

The chances of the University of New Mexico beating a big-name college for a football recruit are a lot like Al Gore's chances of winning the presidency.

Maybe someday UNM will, but right now, it's not happening.

Lobos head coach Rocky Long says the recruiting process at UNM, which has had three winning seasons in the past 18 years, is much more in-depth and time-consuming than it is at a school with a rich college football tradition.

"I've recruited at one big-name school," says Long, who has just completed his third season with the Lobos after a two-year stint as defensive coordinator at UCLA. "You didn't have to work near as hard to recruit players to UCLA as you do to recruit players here.

"When I was an assistant coach, I recruited at schools that didn't have UCLA's status. I would have a list of 50-70 guys I was keeping track of constantly. At UCLA, I had 12. It's much easier to recruit to big-name schools."

Each of UNM's nine assistants has a "focus" list a list of players in the spring of their junior years in high school with which the Lobos will begin correspondence of 75 players.

That list is pared from a "bulk" list of 150-175 kids or more, the remaining players being ones who aren't quite Lobo material yet but have a chance to develop their senior seasons.

With the regulations the NCAA puts on the recruitment process when coaches can contact recruits, when they can visit recruits, the fact that a school can have no more than seven coaches on the road at one time the Lobos have to be smarter and more efficient in their efforts.

"At some point when I realize that it's a Big 12 school or a Pac-10 school I'm competing against, you cut your losses," says second-year wide receivers coach Gerald Bradley, who recruits in Los Angeles. …

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