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College football: Hart grad gets his shot

Holbrook named starting QB at New Mexico

Posted: August 25, 2010 10:28 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Hart graduate B.R. Holbrook served as the University of New Mexico’s backup quarterback last year. He will start this season.

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The Mountain West Conference has been at the center of college football's expansion this offseason.

The University of New Mexico, on the other hand, hasn't been at the center of the Mountain West title picture recently.

A Hart High graduate hopes to change all that.

Former Indians quarterback B.R. Holbrook was named the starter this week for the Lobos, who are just 5-19 over the past two seasons.

Still, the opportunity is not lost on Holbrook.

"It's huge," he said. "With all the national attention on the Mountain West, you can't help but notice that kind of thing. With the addition of Boise State and all the other things, hopefully it turns into a BCS conference."

Holbrook's immediate future, however, will be spent trying to turn around New Mexico.

Before the last two seasons, the Lobos reached bowl eligibility with at least six wins in every season from 2001-2007. In an unexpected turn of events, former head coach Rocky Long resigned after the 2008 season because he didn't believe he could take the program to the top of college football.

Under new head coach Mike Locksley, the Lobos went 1-11 in 2009, but came close in several of their losses, including a five-point loss to eventual Las Vegas Bowl champion BYU.

"Our record didn't represent what we were all about and how we played games," said Holbrook, who spent last season as a backup to senior Donovan Porterie. "Every Sunday, we'd come in and say, ‘If we'd done this better or that better, we'd have gotten the win.'"

Now in his second year, Locksley said the coaching staff was looking for a quarterback who gave the team the best chance to win, who understood the importance of taking care of the football and who moved the offense up and down the field.

"B.R. was the best guy by far in all three of those phases," he said.

Locksley added that Holbrook was in consideration for the starting job last season, but the position ultimately went to Porterie because of his experience.

While at Hart, the 6-foot-3-inch, 195-pound Holbrook helped lead the Indians to a Foothill League title and CIF-Southern Section Northern Division runner-up finish in 2007.

He redshirted his first year at New Mexico and battled mononucleosis for part of last season. He appeared in five games and completed 19-of-34 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

"That game experience was huge for me," he said. "How quick the game and tempo is, you can't really replicate it at practice. It really helped me in my game experience."

He added that he's improved his ability to read defenses quickly but still needs to work on his footwork.

Locksley believes that Holbrook is the key to turning some of New Mexico's close losses into victories.

"He's still a young player himself," Locksley said. "He's got a lot of good football left in him."

Holbrook will have to play good football right away. The Lobos will open the season on Sept. 4 at defending Pac-10 champion Oregon, which is ranked No. 11 in both the Associated Press and Coaches' preseason polls.

"I'm excited about it," he said. "You can't help but want to play in situations like that. If a stadium's loud, it gets you hyped. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best."

 

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