At the end of August, New Mexico State will take the field for their first game against an FBS opponent in 20 months.
Sure, the Aggies played a two-game exhibition season this past spring but it clearly was not the same as a full-blown regular-season game. Thankfully for Aggie fans, only one month remains between now and that first FBS game since November 30, 2019 becoming reality.
So what has changed in nearly two years? Quite a bit, as transfers and new faces have completely changed the New Mexico State football team.
The defense is where transfers have really changed the look of the team. Six(!) players left the NM State defense since the end of the 2019 season, all of whom played a significant role on the team.
The linebacking unit was hit especially hard as Devin Richardson (Texas), Jason Simmons (Syracuse), Rashie Hodge (Arizona), and Matthew Young (unsigned) all left the program. That’s a lot of talent considering three of the four will be playing for P5 programs and the fact that NM State is left with only 10 career starts on the roster at LB.
DL Xander Yarberough (South Florida) and Myles Vigne (Nicholls) are the other two players who left on a defensive line that looks questionable as well.
On the offensive side of the ball, most of the big pieces have remained.
Jonah Johnson and Weston Eget will battle for the starting quarterback position while O’Maury Samuels and Juwuan Price will form a nice 1-2 punch out of the backfield.
The receiving corps and offensive line remain mostly intact. That’s great news for a team that averaged just 21.7 points a game in 2019.
The only loss on the offense is the transfer of RB Naveon Mitchell, who will play at Missouri State this fall. The Aggies did however pull in Dominic Gicinto, a WR from Missouri and TE Tomaz Whitford, who will be an intriguing offensive weapon along with C Eli Johnson, who played for Ole Miss the past three seasons.
Phil Steele thinks the Aggies will have a better year than most expect but I am not quite sold on that as the Aggies defense is full of a lot of question marks and they play a tough, mostly Mountain West schedule.
Prediction: Aggies play UTEP and New Mexico tough, but it will be another tough year. 2-10.