January 26, 2011

Maryland player had originally committed to Ohio

The sorry record that the University of New Mexico has had in football for the last two seasons (2-22) was actually a positive instead of a negative when it came to recruiting Jamal Merritt of Silver Spring, Md.

Merritt, a defensive back from Sherwood High, plans to sign with UNM next Wednesday because the opportunity to play right away.
"I'm a cornerback or free safety,'' says Merritt, who is 6-foot, 175. "I thought it was a better fit for me. It gives me a better chance to get to play.''

Merritt's father, Richard, had a short-lived career as a basketball player at UNM. During the 1983-84 season he played in seven games for the Lobos and scored two points in 12 minutes of playing time before returning to the Washington, D.C., area.

"My father just told me that it was my decision. He told me he'd support me, wherever I went,'' Merritt notes.

He chose UNM over Rutgers, East Carolina and Ohio University.

Having made a decision takes a load off Merritt's shoulders.

"It sure makes it easier. I don't have to worry about it any more.'

At the same time, his friends were surprised at Merritt's choice.

"It's kind of far away from here. It's on the other side of the country,'' he says.

Like many freshmen, Merritt thinks that special teams might be his best route for getting on the field.

"I've done a little bit of kick returning, punt returning. I might be doing some of that.''

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