NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – From coaches to players, the University of New Mexico and San Diego State Lobos football teams have many ties between them. UNM head coach Danny Gonzales signed San Diego state stars Jordan Byrd and Keshawn Banks for the Aztecs as they excelled in the New Mexico high school ranks. This was around the time Gonzales was an assistant to the state of San Diego.
Now he has to face the pair at a time when the Lobos struggle to find a win and the Aztecs are undefeated and nationally ranked. Gonzales is well aware of the talent of both players, especially the speed of Byrd, who as a running back, kicker and punt returner has shown his speed on several occasions this season.
“He is maybe the fastest guy in this league and we have a great league,” Gonzales said. “So that says volumes. When he touches the ball on the return from the kick-off, he is scary. He may be more dangerous than Texas A&M’s Anias Smith when he catches punters. We have to hook the ball and go around it because we can make him nervous, but when he catches it he doesn’t need a lot of air.
Byrd said he was delighted to be returning to Albuquerque for a game and was flattered by Coach Gonzales’ comments. “I’m honored, especially my recruiter,” Byrd said. “So I’m honored by that, especially what he said about me. It’s okay. ”Byrd played the role of Manzano High School quarterback and led them to a state championship in 2017.
At the same time, Keshawn Banks was terrorizing his opponents as a member of the Rio Rancho Rams’ defensive line. Banks became an honorable mention selection for all conferences. He credits Rocky Long for some of his success. Long, a former head coach of Lobos and San Diego State, is New Mexico’s current defensive coordinator.
“He helped me develop as a player and as a young man, to become better and to be strong mentally and physically,” Banks said. “He’s a great coach, like I said, but he doesn’t coach the Aztecs. He trains the Lobos. So we’ll see what happens on Saturday. The game will likely have an awkward feeling for Gonzales, Long and Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke. All three were coaches at San Diego State.
“I don’t like playing against friends,” Hoke said. “I mean I never did. It’s not fun and it’s not fun for women. I can tell you that it mostly depends on your kindness.
In other sports news, Dontrell Moore is at Van Tate’s sports office. Moore stopped by to talk about his upcoming UNM Ring of Honor induction on October 16.
Meanwhile, New Mexico United returns to the pitch tonight when they host Hartford. With six games to go, New Mexico remains in fourth place in the Mountain Division of the Western Conference of the USL Championship. The top four from each conference make the playoffs.
Finally, UNM’s women’s soccer will have an eight-game winning streak on the road this weekend. The Lobos are in Nevada Friday and UNLV Sunday. Defending Mountain West champion Lobos is 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the league.