Frank Mercogliano - 93 - Nahje Flowers.jpg

Nahje Flowers

New Mexico announced Tuesday that defensive lineman Nahje Flowers, 21, has died.

No cause of death was released for the redshirt junior who had 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks this year. Flowers started four games.

“Our entire football team and everyone who knew Nahje are devastated by this loss,” Lobos coach Bob Davie said. “Nahje was a wonderful person and great teammate. Our entire Lobo Football family mourns his passing and our prayers go out to his family.”

New Mexico hosts Air Force on Saturday.

“Your heart goes out to the young man’s soul and their family and the people there in the community,” Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said.

Air Force receiver Geraud Sanders also offered condolences to the Lobos program, which he grew to know through his lifelong friendship with former New Mexico quarterback Lamar Jordan.

“My prayers are with you all,” Sanders said.

Sanders named Wuerffel Trophy semifinalist

Air Force senior quarterback Isaiah Sanders was named one of nine semifinalists for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is presented to the Football Bowl Subdivision player “who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”

“It’s an honor,” Sanders said. “Grateful and blessed for sure to be able to be recognized with such an elite group of people.”

The other semifinalists are Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown, Duke linebacker Koby Quansah, LSU long snapper Blake Ferguson, Texas A&M punter Braden Mann, Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, New Mexico offensive lineman Teton Saltes, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink.

“Remarkable young man,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said of Sanders, a Palmer Ridge graduate who was also named to the All-State Good Works Team. “Very, very dependable. It’s not so much what he says, although when he does have something to share there’s plenty of wisdom that’s heartfelt that way. Yet, by his actions, just speaks immensely.”

Johnson wins ‘Defender of the Nation Award’

Air Force linebacker Kyle Johnson was named the recipient of the Defender of the Nation Award, presented by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

The award goes to a defensive player selected among nine military service academies and institutions – Air Force, Army, Navy as well as The Citadel, Coast Guard Academy, Norwich, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and VMI. It is based on leadership qualities on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

“Just a ton of spirit and soul that he has,” Calhoun said of Johnson. “He plays that way, he lives that way.

“He’s pretty steady in the way that he approaches everything he does.”

Johnson ranks second on Air force with 44 tackles.

“I think I’m really honored to be considered in that same sort of caliber as those guys who have won it before,” Johnson said.

Brent Briggeman, The Gazette

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