UK Football

Researching UK’s opponent: How New Mexico State players ranked as recruits

New Mexico State center Anthony McMeans was a two-star recruit coming out of high school. The Alabama native started in all 12 games last season.
New Mexico State center Anthony McMeans was a two-star recruit coming out of high school. The Alabama native started in all 12 games last season. AP

Two games — and two disappointing losses — behind them, the Kentucky Wildcats are in desperate need of a victory on the football field.

UK should get an opportunity to do that Saturday against New Mexico State, a Sun Belt Conference team that — on paper, at least — doesn’t have nearly the level of talent on its squad as Kentucky does.

Here’s a breakdown of where the Aggies’ players were ranked as recruits, with some comparisons to how they stack up — recruiting-wise — to UK’s roster (all rankings from Rivals.com):

Numbers game

New Mexico State has three three-star players and 60 two-star players on its roster.

By comparison: UK has one five-star recruit (freshman offensive lineman Landon Young), 15 four-star recruits, 49 three-star recruits and 10 two-star recruits on its roster this season.

Depth chart

New Mexico lists a total of 22 starters on the offensive and defensive units (with zero “either or” position battles heading into the UK game). Nineteen of those starters were two-star recruits and three starters were not ranked as recruits.

By comparison: UK lists 25 players as starters on the offensive and defensive units (and the Cats also have zero “either or” position battles this week). Six of those players were four-star recruits in high school: Wide receiver Dorian Baker, quarterback Drew Barker, running back Boom Williams, tight end C.J. Conrad and defensive backs Mike Edwards and Kendall Randolph. Another 15 starters were three-star recruits, two were two-star recruits, and two others were unranked in high school (left tackle Cole Mosier and fullback Will Tom Collins).

Stars of the show

New Mexico State has only three players who were ranked as three-star recruits coming out of high school. None of those players are projected as starters this week.

Quarterback Nick Jeanty — a sophomore from Miramar, Fla. — is listed as one of two options at the No. 2 QB spot on the Aggies’ depth chart. Jeanty was New Mexico State’s only three-star signee in the 2014 class, choosing the program over reported scholarship offers from Western Kentucky, Central Florida, Ohio and other mid-majors. He started three games as a freshman last season, going 54-for-101 with three TDs and two interceptions. He has not played this season.

Defensive back Samuel Oyenuga — a senior from Rowlett, Texas — was ranked as a three-star recruit in the class of 2011, though Stephen F. Austin was the only other school that offered, according to the Rivals.com database. He is not listed on the Aggies’ depth chart and has not played this season.

Linebacker Robert Wagner — a senior from Ontario, Calif. — was one of seven three-star players in New Mexico State’s 2012 recruiting class, but he’s the only one still on the team. Wagner started three games last season but has not yet played this fall.

Unranked quarterback

New Mexico State’s starting quarterback — senior Tyler Rogers — was originally a member of Air Force’s recruiting class of 2013, though he did not have a star ranking coming out of high school. His only other offers at the time were from North Dakota and South Dakota State. The Arizona native never played at Air Force, instead ending up at Arizona Western for the 2013 season. He transferred to New Mexico State in 2014 and started 15 of 16 games before being sidelined with an injury midway through last season. He has started both games at QB this fall and is the Aggies’ leading passer (38-for-76, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) and leading rusher (24 attempts for 84 yards and 1 TD).

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