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New Mexico State Football 2018 Position Previews: Defensive Back

Down two starting safeties, can the Aggies improve their pass defense once again?

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Arkansas
DeMarcus Owens (4) and Shamad Lomax (22) are two members of an experienced secondary looking to improve on a great 2017 season.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

There is only ONE more week until NM State Football returns and two more position previews. Today, we’ll look at the defensive backfield as the game against the Wyoming Cowboys looms.


The Aggies lose two key members of a defense that decreased the average passing yards from 252 to 234 a game and decreased opponent passing percentage from 64.4 to 58.4.

Those two players are:

  • Three year starting safety Jaden Wright (32 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one pass break up, three interceptions) and
  • Free safety Jacob Nwanga (16 tackles)

Despite the loss of experience, the Aggies still have a backfield loaded with talent.

Returnees/New Guy

The Aggies secondary is led by last year’s Second Team all Sun Belt and Sun Belt newcomer of the year, Ron LaForce, who had a great 2017 totaling 104 tackles, five pass break ups and three interceptions. Other returning starters include:

  • Shamad Lomax (72 tackles, 2 12 tackles for loss, one sack, two forced fumbles, seven pass break ups, four interceptions, 3rd Team All Sun Belt)
  • Malik Demby (47 tackles, 6 12 sacks, 4 12 tackles for loss, one pass break up)
  • DeMarcus Owens (50 tackles, eight pass break ups, two interceptions)
  • Austin Perkins (44 tackles, four pass break ups)
  • Jared Phillips (21 tackles, two pass break ups)
NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Arkansas
Ron LaForce leads the secondary coming off a great first year in Las Cruces
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Reinforcing the familiar ball hawks will be:

  • Ray Buford
  • Lautoa Nomura
  • Xzavier Guyton
  • Mica Ward
  • Rodney McGraw II


The Aggies improved tremendously between 2016 and 2017. Even though they lose two experienced safeties from last year’s bowl winning team, this unit comes into 2018 looking even better.

With nine starters total returning on the defense and an increased emphasis on pressuring the quarterback, I expect this backfield to improve once again during the 2018 season! Shut down those QBs boys!