UNM football: Notes and observations from Tuesday's practice

Apr. 23—Sights and sounds from New Mexico's 13th spring practice, with roster and injury updates included:

TUESDAY: Can a Bronco Mendenhall practice, best known for their pace, intensity and overwhelming attention to detail, be characterized as laid back? Maybe not. But if there was ever a day (at least so far) to shoot for that description, it was Tuesday morning.

It's not as if the pace or attention to detail was subdued — players had to redo their pre-warm up session because they didn't get in their stretching lines fast enough on the first go — but things felt settled. Maybe it's because the spring game was finally out of the way. Maybe it's because everybody's finally comfortable with a routine that's set to end Saturday.

Whatever it was, that feeling was there. There was no 11-on-11 session. Hardly any yelling. Mostly light-hearted chirps from player to coach (one was heard bringing up offensive analyst Koy Detmer Jr.'s 37 career touchdown passes at Texas A&M-Kingsville) or coach to player, like when cornerback Noah Avinger blanketed wide receiver Nic Trujillo on an out route during one-on-one coverage drills, stepping in front and picking off a pass by the slimmest of margins.

A toe drag interception. A really nice play. Defensive backs coach Charles Mack noticed from the far side of the field.

"Good catch," he yelled to Avinger with a smile. "You still got 30 push-ups."

To which Avinger, after muttering briefly to himself and whoever was in ear shot, dropped and repped out 30 push ups on the sidelines.

Beyond that, Trujillo wasn't held down all too often. Avinger was actually flagged during an earlier rep defending the Cleveland High School product on a slant. In one of the last reps of the open viewing period, he beat cornerback Edward Blacklock rather soundly for a would-be touchdown.

Last fall, former head coach Danny Gonzales spoke highly of Trujillo and what he brought to the table, flashes during scrimmages forcing the issue. Not much has changed: Mendenhall has done much of the same when asked about the wide receivers, consistently singling out the sophomore with great top end speed and solid length.

But after redshirting last season (four game appearances on the dot with no receptions), it's become clear he'll have a bigger role in a room with some new faces. Maybe much bigger. His two streaking touchdowns during the spring game — plus a sideline catch that saw him juke, of all people, Avinger — were perhaps the first real confirmation that he was in that position.

However it shakes out come fall, expect him to continue getting substantial run in a wide receiver room that's perhaps the deepest position UNM has at the moment.

"Just trying to be the first one here, the last one to leave," he said of his approach this spring after Saturday's spring game. "Study film and learn from my mistakes, learn from others, learn from the people that are older than me — that have had multiple years of college football ... I want to be eager to learn, and that's where I'm at."

ROSTER NOTES: Defensive end David Rowaiye announced his decision to enter the portal Tuesday via a post on social media.

"Want to give my thanks to the University of New Mexico coaching staff, academic support, athletic trainers (past and present) and my teammates for loving me and guiding me on and off the field," he wrote in a post on X. "After talks with family and many prayers, I'm entering the transfer portal."

An Oklahoma City native and former Oklahoma 5A player of the year at Southeast High School, Rowaiye saw no game action in two years with the Lobos. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

And as is common, UNM hosted a group of recruits during Saturday's spring game. A (likely incomplete) list of players — both from the prep ranks and transfer portal — to visit the Lobos over the weekend:

CB Marvelous Owens — Butte CollegeDB Bertin Placide — Moorpark College WR Mateo Contreras — Robertson High School QB Marquise Reese — Mountain Vista (Colorado) High School

INJURY UPDATES: Running back Eli Sanders and cornerback Nigel Williams were spotted in turquoise (meaning non-contact or injured) during Tuesday's practice. And after starting the spring in turquoise, tight end Magnus Geers made his third practice appearance in the offense's red jerseys after returning last Thursday.