Dolphins sign former UNM basketball player, Hobbs native after draft

Apr. 27—As different as they were, both paths either started or passed through New Mexico.

And somehow, the final destination was the same: the NFL.

The Miami Dolphins are signing former New Mexico Military Institute and Hobbs High School quarterback Gavin Hardison and former New Mexico basketball player Bayron Matos, who projects to be an offensive lineman, as undrafted free agents, per reports. The NFL Network's Tom Pelissero was the first to report both signings.

Born and raised in Hobbs, Hardison threw for a state-record 5,537 passing yards and 59 touchdowns as a senior at Hobbs High School. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback spent his freshman year at NMMI before transferring to UTEP in 2019.

Hardison became the Miners' full-time starter in 2021, passing for 3,217 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions to earn All-Conference USA honorable mention honors. He put up 2,044 passing yards over 10 games before suffering a season-ending injury in 2022; his redshirt senior season came to end after five games after he opted to undergo elbow surgery.

Hardison drew attention from scouts for his arm strength and was graded as The Athletic's 19th best quarterback prospect in its annual draft guide.

"He is more of a 'see it' thrower and tends to get happy feet when things aren't well-defined in coverage (needs to eliminate things quicker)," the publication wrote. "He is comfortable running zone-read/run-pass option concepts. Overall, Hardison didn't put consistent ball placement on film, but he shows immense trust in his arm — which is both a strength and weakness."

Matos took a far different path to the NFL. A 6-foot-7, 313-pound native of the Dominican Republic, he moved to the United States at 16 years old to pursue basketball and committed to play at New Mexico out of Hamilton Heights Christian (Tennessee) Academy.

After redshirting his freshman season, Matos averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds a game in 2020-2021, a season the Lobos were unable to play home games within New Mexico due to COVID-19 restrictions. Matos later transferred to South Florida and played as a reserve before deciding to walk-on to the football team with no prior experience.

Matos saw minimal playing time as an offensive lineman in one season with the Bulls but has been regarded by NFL scouts as an intriguing prospect due to his measurables and athleticism. He notably ran the 40-yard dash in 4.88 seconds at USF's pro day, a time that would've made him one of the fastest offensive linemen at the NFL Scouting Combine.