By Joe Naiman
Tyler Jackson signed a letter of intent to play football at Western New Mexico University in February when the Mustangs offered him a scholarship. The 2011 Ramona High School graduate has seen limited playing time in his freshman year, and that included a handful of plays Sept. 10 when the Mustangs traveled to San Diego for a game at the University of San Diego.
“It was nice having good fan support,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of San Diego kids on the team.”
Including redshirts who will not play this year, Western New Mexico has 18 players from San Diego County on its roster — as many players from San Diego County as are on the USD roster — along with six players from Riverside County and one from Imperial County. The San Diego County players do not include Dwayne Mitchell, who began his high school career in Fallbrook but moved to Hawaii after his junior year and graduated from Kalaheo High School.
Adam Clark, Western New Mexico’s head coach, was raised in Santee and played for West Hills High School and Grossmont College before closing out his playing career at St. Ambrose University in Iowa.
“I’m blessed to have a lot of Southern California kids who are good players,” Clark said. “We’re going to have a chance to be a pretty good program.”
Some of those players precede Clark, who is in his second year as Mustangs coach. Last year’s players included Ramona High School graduate Spencer Johnston.
Jackson was on the field as a running back against the Toreros but did not carry the ball in USD’s 30-10 win. He also played in the Mustangs’ opening game Sept. 3 at home against Sul Ross State University, although he wasn’t a ball carrier in that game.
“It’s a great experience,” Jackson said of playing at Western New Mexico. “It’s a great place to be.”
The loss to USD gave Western New Mexico, which is in Silver City, a 1-1 season record.
Although USD’s 2012 schedule will not allow for a return visit by the Mustangs, Clark hopes to play somewhere in Southern California next year and would like to return to USD during the 2013 season.