No way Kerry Locklin was going to pass up an opportunity to coach at his alma mater.
When New Mexico State football coach Doug Martin fired defensive line coach Romeo Bandison on Dec. 1, Locklin didn't hesitate to apply.
After spending this past season as the Fresno City College linebackers coach, Locklin is returning to his native Las Cruces, N.M., where he starred as a tight end for four seasons with the Aggies and earned All-America honorable mention.
"I have great memories from my playing days here," Locklin said. "I thank Coach Martin for giving me an opportunity to fulfill a dream of mine. I feel in my heart that we have a great opportunity to do amazing things here in Las Cruces. It's always a dream come true to go back where you started. Go back and contribute."
Martin said it was a no-brainer to hire Locklin because "it was really important to bring a New Mexico State alum back to the program."
"Hire somebody that wants to be here," Martin said, "and has a lot of strong feelings about this university and the football program. Coupled with Kerry's experience at places like Fresno State will help us build this program in the right direction and it's something we really look forward to."
Locklin was drafted in the sixth round of the 1982 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Rams.
After his playing days, Locklin ended up coaching at several schools, including Fresno State for nine seasons before joining the NFL's New York Jets as defensive line coach in 2009.
Locklin also coached at Fresno City in 2011.
New Mexico State, a former Western Athletic Conference member that spent last season as an independent, going 2-10, will join the Sun Belt Conference next season.
"They've been struggling the last few years," Locklin said. "I've always coached against them when I was at Fresno State. Just want to go back, contribute and be an asset and get this thing turned around and moving in the right direction."
Fresno City coach Tony Caviglia, meanwhile, began an immediate search for the linebackers position.
Locals at D-I powers cap debut seasons
Ex-Central High star defensive backs Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore completed their first season at Oklahoma, which finished No. 6 in the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Both didn't play in the Sooners' 45-31 victory against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Byrd finished his freshman season with three tackles, and Moore had one.
Former Fresno City star Duron Singleton recorded a tackle on special teams in Missouri's 41-31 victory against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
Singleton completed his junior season with 23 tackles and one forced fumble for the fifth-ranked Tigers, who went 12-2 and won the Southeastern Conference East Division.
JC football players are oral commits
College of the Sequoias cornerback Isaac Brutton has committed to Fresno State.
Brutton — who came to Visalia out of St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — played four games this past season and recorded eight tackles.
Fresno City running back Dakota Gordon is a mid-year transfer and will play for San Diego State.
Gordon rushed 37 times for 243 yards with three touchdowns. The former Clovis High star also had 13 receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
Rams center Patrick Markarian out of Clovis West High also will be a mid-year transfer heading to Indiana State of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Fresno City offensive lineman Wylie Brand of Clovis High made an oral commitment to play for Southern Utah of the Big Sky Conference.
Reedley College QB to head for Kingsville
Reedley College quarterback Trey Mitchell will be a mid-year transfer to Division II Texas A&M-Kingsville.
"It's a great opportunity for me to continue playing football and getting my education," Mitchell said, "as well as having an opportunity to play at the highest level after my two years there."
The former Clovis High quarterback was 162-of-313 passing for 1,445 yards with seven touchdowns for the Tigers this past season.
The Javelinas compete in the Lone Star Conference.
Ex-Buchanan star Fertig nets career high
Alex Fertig, a sophomore guard out of Buchanan High, scored 30 points Friday but Cal State Monterey Bay fell 96-86 to Cal State San Bernardino, ranked No. 14 in Division II.
The 30 points — on 11-of-15 shooting, including 3 for 3 on 3-pointers — was a career high for Fertig, last year's California Collegiate Athletic Association Freshman of the Year.
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