By Dave Wagner
Veteran Eastern New Mexico University football coach Bud Elliott said the Greyhounds are in an unusual situation as national signing day approaches today — they don’t have that many spots available.
ENMU normally signs about 22 players to national letters of intent, Elliott said, but will probably add only about half that number this spring.
“We’ll probably sign eight or nine kids (today),” Elliott said. “We’re still working on two or three others.”
Elliott, beginning his 11th season at the school, said the Hounds have 18 regulars returning, including everybody except center Adam Springer on offense. The defense loses a cornerback (Eric Mims), a linebacker (Ben Dollar) and a defensive end (split between Wayne Childs and E.J. Ume) to graduation.
“We have a lot of redshirts coming back, so we don’t have a whole lot of room right now,” Elliott said. “We’ve been pretty particular, and we’ve been running in some pretty good company (against Division I schools). But we have some places that we need to shore up.”
ENMU defensive coordinator Mark Ribaudo said that while his side of the ball is in good shape for 2004, that platoon is scheduled to lose more than a dozen seniors after next season.
“We’re kind of looking to the future,” Ribaudo said. “Actually, recruiting has gone a little slower on defense than offense; at this point, we’ve still got some (recruits) on the line.”
Ribaudo said the Hounds haven’t had much luck at defensive end, losing their top three recruits after all made commitments to Division I programs.
Next year will be crucial in recruiting on defense, Ribaudo said.
“We’re real excited about (this) year,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of folks back who’ve played a lot of football.
“I’m pretty excited; I can’t wait. We should have a pretty salty defense.”
ENMU has announced an 11-game schedule, featuring nine contests against Lone Star Conference teams sandwiched by out-of-conference home tilts against Central Arkansas (Aug. 28) and Western New Mexico (Nov. 6).
“I ran into their coach down at a (coaches) convention in January, and we got to talking,” Elliott said. “Their AD (athletic director) called us, and we worked out an agreement.”
ENMU’s spring practice begins on March 2, and ends with the annual Silver and Green game at Greyhound Stadium on Sunday, April 4.