By Tom A. Ruiz
Special to RDR Sports
Before choosing the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Goddard senior Connor Villalpando also visited Division 1 schools at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) and New Mexico State University.
In the end, he chose UTEP because, “That’s where I felt I had a better opportunity to play, and the coaching staff was a little bit more welcoming,” he said.
At 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, Connor is likely to play on special teams as a deep snapper, according to Nate Poss, director of operations.
“He’s one of the best that we saw. We’ve had some good ones around here and we really like him,” Poss said.
Connor also played linebacker for the Rockets this past season. Poss adds that if Connor can put on 30 to 35 more pounds, he could fit in at that position. “He’s an all-around good football player,” Poss noted.
The Miners have held their fall workouts in Ruidoso the past four years. However, those wanting to make the trip from Roswell this year to see Connor and the team will have to wait and see if the Miners and the village of Ruidoso can come to terms for another year.
In the meantime, Connor will continue to work out in preparation to join the team. While at Goddard, he credits the pulling of railroad ties during summer workouts that gave him toughness and durability.
“It taught me hard work and the drive to do my best. Every year, teams are gunning for us because we are one of the elite football programs in the state,” Connor pointed out.
“There is something to be said for a team that’s been together since our freshman year. It will be interesting to see where we’ll be in 10 years. I have learned so much from our coaches not just for playing football, but also how to carry yourself when you’re off the field.”
For Connor, he’ll be pursuing a business degree and a minor in real estate.