UNM begins 2024 spring football practice

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The UNM football team began spring practice for the 2024 season Tuesday morning. This marked the first practice for new UNM head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

There was a noticeable difference in the players’ effort and intensity during the portion of practice open to the media. Players run around the practice field and have to start a drill over if they don’t run correctly the first time. Two players were even seen vomiting within the first 30 minutes of the workout.

The difference in effort, and accountability, stems from the culture change that Mendenhall is trying to instill in the Lobos program. Mendenhall said he is committed to building a program that comes from principles that are family: first, last, always. Those principles include,

Everyone is somebody
Given not earned
Will Before Skill
Hard Things Together
Two roads
The power of choice
Less drama and more work
Greater than not equal to
Champions work extra
Let it be a winner
Make it a masterpiece

When Mendenhall begins the challenge of coaching the Lobos, he feels he has enough right now to get where he wants to go.

“Team history, program history doesn’t matter,” Mendenhall said. “We’re just starting from scratch. I like my team. They are willing, they try hard and they are interested, but they realize how much work lies ahead. But I’m really pleased and had a lot of fun being out there with them today.”

From a player’s point of view, the boys were finally ready to take the field. After a rigorous off-season weightlifting program, the players got a taste of anticipation under Coach Mendenhall. They understand that change was needed after seven straight losing seasons.

Multiple UNM players, including Andrew “Dola” Henry and safety Tavian Combs, entered the transfer portal early during the coaching change. After listening to Coach Mendenhall, they decided to come back.

“The way they set up the program, it’s tough,” Henry said. “That’s the only way you can be good, and I want to be good. I want to be part of a good team and I don’t want to go somewhere where it’s unpleasant and we do what we want to do. I wanted somewhere with discipline and quality.”

Combs turned down multiple Power-Four offers to return to UNM. He felt he had the opportunity to build a legacy at UNM and wanted to be an example to younger kids through adversity.

“It makes sense that (the new coach) is coming here to help us win,” Combs said. “It’s not ill will towards anyone, it’s just understanding that they’re coming to help. So we are able to understand and absorb this culture and really embrace it to ensure connection and brotherhood among each other.”

UNM spring practice runs through April 27 and all practices are closed to the public. The Lobos spring game opens to the public on Saturday, April 20 at 1 p.m

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