Open Announce Photo/Marshall Saiz

Gonzales Announces Staff Additions

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Danny Gonzales, heading into his fourth season with his alma mater as head football coach, has added Cornelius Williams, Cam Blankenship and Joe Scelfo to the offensive staff.  Williams will serve as receivers coach, Blankenship will coach the offensive line and Scelfo will coach tight ends.

New offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent and Heath Ridenour will coach quarterbacks and Ridenour will also coach in multiple facets of the offense along all positions.  Jamie Christian will remain running backs coach as well as continue serving as special teams coordinator.

“I’m very excited for the new coaches coming in, as all come from successful programs and have successful backgrounds as former players, and in developing student-athletes,” said Gonzales.  “I love the energy around the building and I’m excited to get on the practice field.  Spring practice cannot get here soon enough.”

With the changes on staff on offense, Jason Lenzmeier, who was in his third stint as an assistant coach with New Mexico, will not return, and Brandon Blackmon, who was an original member of the first staff as receivers coach, also will not return.

“I’m very appreciative of Coach Lenzmeier and Coach Blackmon for their work with the program,” said Gonzales, adding, “Jason Lenzmeier is an all-time great player for UNM, he is a Lobo for Life, and I know he will be a success in whatever the future holds for him.”

Williams comes to UNM from the University of Alabama, where he spent last season as an offensive analyst under Nick Saban.  The Crimson Tide finished ranked No. 5 in the final CFP Poll, going 11-2 and winning the Allstate Sugar Bowl 45-20 over Kansas State.  The Crimson Tide averaged 41.1 points per game in 2022 and 477.1 yards of offense per game.  Prior to Alabama and a stop to coach receivers at Auburn, Williams spent six seasons with his alma mater Troy as receivers coach.

With Troy from 2015-2020, the Trojans had back-to-back-to-back double-digit wins, going 10-3 in 2016, 11-2 in 2017 and 10-3 in 2018.  He also served as the passing game coordinator from 2019-20 with Troy, and overall in his six season he saw 12 of his players earn postseason honors.

Williams, who won four Sun Belt titles as a player at Troy has also coached at UAB (2014), Jacksonville State (2013), North Alabama (2012) and Murray State (2011).

Blankenship comes to UNM from UAB, where he served as the offensive line coach ,  he has assisted with the program in a variety of capacities since 2016, originally as an assistant strength coach.  Blankenship had been a part of three bowl wins and two championships since the program was revived for the 2017 season.

A former player from 2012-14 at UAB and then at South Alabama for his final season in 2015, he coached an offensive line in 2022 that averaged over 200 yards a game for a third straight year, checking in at 235.6 yards.  The O-Line has been a strength at UAB with Blankenship, as the O-Line led the nation in 2020 with just four sacks allowed (over nine games).

Scelfo spent the past season at Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, serving as run-game coordinator and offensive line coach.  Scelfo helped guide the Bulldogs into the FCS Playoffs in 2022, advancing to the second round.  Last year Gardner-Webb averaged 32.2 points per game and rushed for 2,323 yards on the year, including a 1,000-yard rusher.

Prior to G-W, Scelfo coached the interior offensive linemen at nationally-ranked Southeast Louisiana for two seasons.  A former free agent with the Houston Texans, he played at South Alabama from 2013-15, earning All-Sun Belt honors before playing at N.C. State for one season as a graduate transfer, being named N.C. State’s Most Valuable Offensive Lineman.

New Mexico opens the 2023 season on the road at Texas A&M on September 2 before opening the home schedule with back-to-back home games with Tennessee Tech and New Mexico State on September 9 and 16.  Spring practice will commence on February 13.