Here we are at the precipice of a brand new football season. In Las Cruces, gone is the old pass-happy offense of Doug Martin, and in comes Jerry Kill to bring a new brand of ground-and-pound football to Las Cruces.
Of course, with a heavy rushing attack, one needs something resembling a pass game to keep the defense honest and to make play action more effective. But who stuck around and who came in this spring? Who will take the reins and lead the offense this season? Let’s take a look.
Jonah Johnson (2,705 yards, 10 TDs, 8 INTs)
It’s clear that the Aggies are losing nearly all of their quarterback production from last season. Jonah Johnson was QB1 last year and took almost all of the reps except for two games. Unfortunately for NMSU, Johnson entered the transfer portal with the coaching change, leaving the Aggies with just one career start returning. Johnson is still in the transfer portal as of July 21.
Dino Maldonado (513 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 68 yards rushing)
Maldonado was the second-most accomplished quarterback for NMSU last season. Notably, Maldonado was a key piece in a nine-point loss at New Mexico and in a win against South Carolina State. A former JUCO standout at Ventura College, Maldonado is a walk-on who completed 37 of 66 passes last season and could build on it in his junior season.
Weston Eget (one completion, seven yards)
Eget has a decent amount of athletic ability, but hasn’t had much of a chance to show it in college just yet. The 6’3” redshirt sophomore completed just one pass on 10 attempts in 2021.
Weston Eget in the middle of another QB competition. With a week of spring ball left and as the vet in the QB room I asked him what this spring has been like pic.twitter.com/IbX7Y6vSCD— Jason Groves (@JPGroves) April 7, 2022
Pavia transferred to NMSU after a JUCO career at New Mexico Military Institute that ended in a NJCAA National Championship in 2021. Pavia threw for 1728 yards and 21 touchdowns last season with just one interception on 215 pass attempts. The Albuquerqe native also rushed for 658 yards with seven rushing touchdowns in 2021. The level of experience could be handy in NMSU’s last year as an FBS independent.
A 6’4” freshman from Oklahoma, Frakes is yet another dual threat on Kill’s roster. Frakes is obviously big and athletic, but he’s very inexperienced. His senior year in high school was his first as a starter at the varsity level. Frakes could be an important piece of the Aggies’ future, but likely will need some time to pick up the college game.
The lack of a front runner in this group could mean a rough start to the passing game and a lot of running this season. It will take fall camp, and possibly even a few extra weeks for us to know who the long term solution is at this position.
With none of them being seniors, it is likely we’ll see many of these names again when the Aggies make the move to Conference USA in 2023.
Next up, we’ll take a look at the running backs who could be poised for a great season.