The 2015 season was a season of change for New Mexico State as they were a few plays from making a realistic run at a bowl berth. With one of the best running backs of the Sun Belt in Larry Rose III in the backfield and several returning starters, the Aggies are primed to at least make a run this fall.
With spring practice kicking off for the New Mexico State Aggies, now is a great time to look at the 2016 Aggies roster changes.
First, lets get the outgoing seniors out of the way.
The Aggies lost 15 players that were categorized as seniors or graduate students from the 2015 team. Defensive backs Winston Rose (51 tkl), Lewis Hill (60 tkl), and Stephen Meredith (39 tkl) will be the biggest losses from a defensive line that struggled last fall.
Linemen Isaiah Folasa-Lutui, Houston Clemente, and Andy Cunningham are lost from a group that led Larry Rose III to a record setting 2015 season. Receiver Jordan Bergstrom (27/437/7TD) was the third leading receiver from last season and caught a team-high seven touchdown passes.
Punter senior punter Anthony Torres was also lost to graduation. The Las Cruces native had an impressive 40.6 yards per punt average on 60 punts last fall. It will not be easy to replace his solid production.
The list of players with eligibility remaining that are no longer on the 2016 roster is an interesting group.
Let's start on offense. Wide receiver Rayvean Moore (9/80/0TD) is no longer on the roster. He was the team's eighth leading receiver. Quarterback Jason Fitzpatrick is no longer on the roster after failing to see any playing time at quarterback last fall.
Reserve OL Nick Ledoux and Dustin Lamb also left the program after seeing no game action. Peter Foreman made one start as a junior on the offensive line last fall, but is also no longer part of the team. The biggest loss is 6-3, 304 pound Antonio Ortega. The 2015 junior saw action in 10 games last fall.
Tight end Montrice Johns is no also gone.
Losses on the defensive side of the ball were very ineffectual. Of the five defensive players that are no longer on the NMSU roster, none made a single tackle. Lineman Humberto Renteria, defensive backs Iman Chatman and Michael Lara, and linebackers Dominique Houston and Garrett Salopek were the defensive players that left the program.
Junior kicker Alex Louthan left the Aggies special teams unit.
A big loss was Greg Hutchins deciding to leave NMSU. Hutchins was a native of Canada and left the Aggies to play for the University of British Columbia. Despite the loss of Hutchins, New Mexico State was able to add a late signee in punter Payton Theisler. The talented punter out of Phoenix, Arizona will be the only punter on the roster unless another move is made.
Then you have the other additions to the program.
JUCO transfers Josh Aganon (WR), Johnathan Boone (WR), Conner Cramer (QB), Bobby Hill (DL), DeShawnte Lloyd (DL), and Jaleel Scott (WR) are all coming in to compete and give depth at important positions. Hill and Lloyd in particular are two of the most needed on a defense that struggled to stop anyone in 2015.
Another big get for the Aggies was the brother duo of Cameron Matthews and Tyler Matthews at quarterback. Cameron is an incoming freshman, while Tyler is a graduate transfer from Southern Miss. He is expected to enroll with the program as soon as he graduates and compete for the starting position.
The freshman class could have some major production from the defense. Linemen Darius Anderson, Roy Lopez, and Myles Vigne should help give depth to a defense looking to improve versus the run game. Defensive backs Brandon Bell, Shamad Lomax, Jared Phipps, Austin Shaw, and Kurt Shughart should be fighting for playing time on a pass defense that gave up nearly 280 yards in the air.
On offense, 6-7 lineman Sage Doxtater is a player the Aggies covet. He has the size to immediately come in and play, but may need time to mature. He could easily turn into an NFL prospect if he is coached up correctly. 6-4, 285 pound Noah Lopez rounds out the offensive lineman that are coming in from high school.
In addition to the JUCO wide receivers that were brought in, the Aggies have a trio of prep wide receiver joining the program. Drew Dan, Gamar Girdy, and Isaiah McIntyre should have plenty of time to adapt to the college game as wide receiver seems to be a position of strength for NMSU this fall. Incoming tight ends Cameron Loos and Bryce Roberts should add to the passing game.
Arlington, Texas native Jason Huntley could find his was into a battle to back up Lary Rose III at running back. Rose carried the ball 239 times (6.9 ypc.) last fall and was the only player on the team with 15+ carries for break the 4.0 yards per carry mark. He needs another back to step up and give the running game a 1-2 punch.