New Mexico State Coach Tony Samuel announced that 16 student-athletes have signed a national letter of intent to attend New Mexico State University on a football scholarship.
Of those 16 student-athletes, four are junior college transfers, one is a transfer from a prep school and the other 11 are high school seniors.
The Aggies signed two players from the state of New Mexico, five from Texas and two from California and two from Nebraska.
Four of those players -- Justine Buries, John Howell, Dustin Sober and Jeremy Zollarcoffer -- are on-campus and will compete in spring drills which begin February 23.
NMSU 2004 Football Signing Class
Michael Barone, TE, 6-4, 265, Mesquite, Texas (North Mesquite HS)
Barone was a two-year starter at tight end. He helped the Stallions to a 9-2 record in 2002, a #12 state ranking and the #2 ranking in Dallas. He had five career catches and was used mainly as a blocking tight end, playing in a triple option offense. Barone was a second team all-district 12-5A pick and played in the 2004 Coca-Cola High School Football All-Star Game. He was also a Dallas Morning News Area Top 100 pick.
"His gift is that he is very physical blocker. He has played at a high level of Texas high school football and knows what it is like to play in front in crowds." Coach Steve Bragg, North Mesquite High School
Brian Blake, WR, 6-1, 195, Ft. Washington, M.D. (Friendly H.S.)
Blake caught 18 passes for 264 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. Against Crossland High, he caught five passes for 131 yards and three scores. As a junior, Friendly went 7-2 overall and 6-1 in league play. He played at the same high school as former Aggies standouts Donald Malloy.
Justine Buries, RB, 6-1,200, Mesquite, Texas (West Mesquite HS/Loomis Chaffee Prep School)
Buries played last fall at Loomis Chaffee Prep School in Windsor, Connecticut. He rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns and ran a kickoff back 85 yards against the Taft School. He was having a great senior season at West Mesquite High School until injury ended his season after five games. In those five games he rushed for 740 yards on 137 carries and 12 touchdowns. He had 172 yards against Richardson and 196 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-0 victory against Thomas Jefferson. As a junior, Buries had 951 yards on 191 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. He was a second team all-district 12-4A pick.
"He finishes runs so well. He has a great forward lean. He would always fall for a few extra yards. He has a great work ethic in the weight room. He works hard all the time. He has also improved his speed a great deal. The extra year really helped him." Coach Gary Johnson West Mesquite High School
Mitchell Cato, CB, 5-11, 185, Tulsa, Oklahoma (Union HS)
Cato was a starting cornerback and reserve wide receiver at Union High School. He was a two-year starter at cornerback and was a first team all-district 6A-3 selection. During his two years as a starter, Union posted a combined record of 26-1, winning a Class 6A title in 2002 and reaching the semifinals in 2003. Union had a 26-game winning streak during those two seasons. As a senior he had 20 catches for 294 yards and two touchdowns while recording 60 tackles, forced two fumbles, broke up six passes, intercepted four passes, blocked two punts and ran one back for a touchdown. He also returned kickoffs his senior season. In this year's Class 6A semifinal game he had five tackles and intercepted two passes.
"He has excellent speed, but what we really liked about him is that he is very aggressive and is a good hitter. He is a good cover corner." Coach Bill Blankenship Union High School
Jake Galusha, CB, 6-0, 190, Omaha, Neb. (Millard North HS)
Galusha was a two-time, first team all-Nebraska pick at Omaha Millard North High School. As a senior he was responsible for nine turnovers and was the second-leading tackler on a team that went 13-0, won the Class A state title and was ranked as the second best team in the history of high school football in the state by the Omaha World Herald. He was part of a defense that held Creighton Prep to just 72 yards in a 38-7 win in the state title game. As a senior he had 72 total tackles, six interceptions, 28 pass break-ups, forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles. As a junior, Galusha recorded 98 tackles, four interceptions and blocked three punts. He is also an academic all-state pick and a two-time all-Metro selection. Galusha was a three-year starter at safety and led Millard North to a combined record of 36-2.
"He may one of the best players I've ever coached. He was a three-year starter and we've had a great run. He is just so smart. He just makes plays. He is a very physical kid and runs well. One time he could be making a play at the line of scrimmage and then he's making a play 30 yards away. He is totally fearless. His preparation is so good. He doesn't break down mentally and is very tough. He won't be overmatched. He was the X-factor for us. He will learn things quickly which will be a big plus for him at New Mexico State." Coach Fred Petito Omaha Millard North High School
John Howell, LB, 6-2, 232, Columbia, S.C. (Lower Richland HS/Hudson Valley CC)
Howell was a two-year starter at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. He was a first team all- Northeast Football Conference pick in 2003 after leading the Vikings to the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls Iowa and a share of the Northeast Football Conference title. He had 63 total tackles, seven of those for loss, two quarterback sacks and an interception. He had a season-high 11 tackles in a win over Erie Community College. As a freshman, Howell started nine games and finished with 48 total tackles. He also had eight tackles for loss, three quarterback sacks and an interception. Before he went to Hudson Valley, Howell served four years in the United States Army. Prior to joining the military, Howell pitched for the Brevard College (NC) baseball team, helping the Tornados to a 59-12 record and a spot in the NAIA World Series. He finished the year with a 7-2 record on the mound.
"John was the reason we were a bowl team this year. He is a great leader, people follow him. I've been doing this for 20 years and he's the best leader I've ever had. I can't say enough about him. He runs well, studies film. I think NMSU has a great one." Coach Bob Jojo Hudson Valley Community College
Clint Jones, FB, 6-0, 220, Mesquite, Texas (North HS)
Clint was also a two-year starter and a three-year letterwinner. He played fullback. He rushed for 550 yards and five touchdowns as a junior and 330 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He was an honorable mention all-district 12-5A pick as a senior.
"He is very physical and tough. He was one of our captains. He is very tough. He is one of the best blocking backs that I have ever been around. Given the chance, he is a good runner. He blocked for Parade All-America running back Tarell Brown in 2002." Coach Steve Bragg, North Mesquite High School
Jeremy Lawson, WR, 6-2, 200, Las Cruces, N.M. (Mayfield HS)
Lawson was a first team all-state pick as a senior at both quarterback and defensive back at Mayfield High School. Lawson helped lead the Trojans to three consecutive appearances in the New Mexico Class 5A state championship game. He was a starting wide receiver as a sophomore and junior before moving to quarterback as a senior. He rushed for 863 yards and passed for 1,072 yards last year and also started at free safety as a senior. He caught 46 passes for 938 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior and 22 passes for 341 yards as a sophomore. He also plays on the Trojans basketball team and runs track.
Brandon McKinney, DE, 6-3, 240, Rio Rancho, N.M. (Rio Rancho HS)
McKinney started at both linebacker and fullback for three seasons at Rio Rancho High School. He rushed for over 700 yards last year and had over 300 tackles in his career at Rio Rancho. He was a first team all-state pick at linebacker and was a first team all-district 1-5A selection. He will played in the North South game this year after leading Rio Rancho to a 7-3 record in 2003.
"He is top-notch. I've coached a number of division I athletes and he sticks out more than any other I've coached. He has great size and speed. He has great speed for a big man and I think that will be his ticket to be successful." Coach Phil Lopez, Rio Rancho High School
Zach Monono, OL/DL, 6-3, 270, Ralston, Neb. (Ralston HS)
Zach was a three-year starter offensive guard and defensive tackle at Ralston High School. He was an all-district B-2 pick as a junior and a senior and a Class B pick as a senior. He led the team in tackles with 72 tackles including six tackles for loss, four quarterback sacks, and six quarterback hurries. Monono played on a Ralston team that advanced to the Class B state title game in 2002 with a 9-4 record.
"His upside is tremendous. He is a great athlete for a lineman. He is very quick and gets great separation and has the ability to run people down on defense and pull and move offensively. He is a very bright kid and understands the game. He is going to continue to get better and better." Coach Tyler Zahn, Ralston High School
Andrew Mooney, TE, 6-3, 230, Lubbock, Texas (Monterey HS)
Mooney was a first team all-district 2-5A pick as well as an all-city pick as a senior. He was also picked to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal South Plains Super Team. Mooney caught 24 passes for 434 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. He caught a season long 53-yard touchdown pass against Odessa Permian. Andrew was a two-year starter at Monterey, leading the Plainsmen to consecutive appearances in the Class 5A regional semifinals. He comes from a very athletically talented family. Two of his older sisters played volleyball at Texas Tech and one each who played basketball at Baylor and Lubbock Christian University, respectively. His father, Ed, a former Tech linebacker, played in the NFL from 1968-73 with the Lions and the Colts.
Courtney Snowden, OL, 6-3, 260, Texarkana, Texas (Liberty-Eylau H.S.)
Snowden started at offensive guard and defensive tackle at Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana. Courtney was a three-year starter and a first team all district 12-3A pick. He led the Leopards to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs before losing to state champion Gainesville.
"He was a real physical presence. He can really move for someone his size and really matched up well against teams with speed because he could get to the second level of defenders." Coach Willie Allen Offensive line coach, Liberty-Eylau High School
Dustin Sober, LB, 6-1, 215, Fullerton, Calif. (Fullerton H.S./Fullerton JC)
Sober led Fullerton College with 122 tackles in 13 games in 2003. He was a two-year starter at inside linebacker. He had 188 tackles in 23 career games. He was the team's leading tackler in 2003 and led the Hornets to a Mission Conference National Division title and eight wins over ranked teams. Fullerton posted an 8-2 regular season record. He was a unanimous, first team all-Mission Conference National Division pick this season, helping the Hornets bounce back from a 3-7 season in 2002. Fullerton went on to win in the first two rounds of the California Community College playoffs before losing in the semifinals. He had 12 tackles in the semifinal loss to Grossmont. Sober had 66 tackles (31 solos, 35 assisted) as a freshman.
"You can't beat his work ethic. He's a big-time kid. He takes care of business. He might have been the best-kept secret we had this year. He has a perpetual motor. He is a get after it son of a gun. He's very intelligent. He played inside linebacker, but he could play any of the linebacker positions." Coach Gene Murphy Fullerton College
Dawson Wilber, Athlete/K, 5-10, 200, Midland, Texas (Greenwood High School)
Wilbur was a four-year starter at Greenwood. He was a starting linebacker as a freshman and sophomore and starting quarterback in an option-oriented offense as a junior and senior. He led Greenwood to the 2002 Class 3A Division II state title game and a 15-1 record as the starting quarterback. In the quarterfinal game against Sweetwater, he rushed for 119 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. He was an honorable mention all-state pick as a junior and senior at quarterback and a second team all-state pick as a punter his senior year. As a starting quarterback, he led Greenwood to a 23-4 record. As a senior he rushed for 730 yards on 107 carries and scored eight touchdowns. He also completed 48 of 84 passes for 57 percent, 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a junior he rushed for over 1,200 yards and threw for over 1,100 yards. He was voted the West Texas MVP by the San Angelo Standard Times as a junior and was the District 4-3A MVP as a senior. He was a first team all-district punter this year and kicked a 52-yard field goal in the playoffs as a junior.
"He's the best athlete I've ever coached and I've coached 31 years. He's just a winner. He just makes things happen.. I think he's a quarterback. He's the kind of kid that can be a running back or a defensive back. He was a special player. He as good a runner as a thrower. We run the wishbone, shotgun, no backs and he's been able to handle it all." Coach Bob Purser, Midland Greenwood High School
Matt Yocum, 6-4, 310, OL, Lakewood, Calif. (Lakewood H.S./Long Beach City CC)
Yocum was a two-year starter at left offensive tackle at Long Beach City College. As a freshman, the Vikings finished 8-3, finished #14 in the final JC Athletic Bureau/California Community College Football Coaches Association rankings, won the Mission Conference Northern Division title, and defeated Compton College in the Western State Bowl. Yocum was a second team all-Mission Conference American Division second team pick as a sophomore. Yocum was a three-year starter at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, California.
"He is an excellent athlete with very quick feet. He is strong and capable of finesse and brute strength. He will be an excellent player at the next level." Coach Jerry Jaso, Long Beach City College
Jeremy Zollarcoffer, 6-2, 300, DL, Malden, Mass. (Malden HS/Lackawanna College)
Zollarcoffer started all 10 games that he played in last fall at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He finished with 27 total tackles, 22 of them solo, along with six quarterback sacks. As a freshman at Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts, Zollarcoffer started all seven games that he played in and recorded 35 tackles, six and a half sacks, recovered a fumble and forced a fumble