LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – It was one of the most surprising stories of the 2022 college football season.

In year one under new head coach Jerry Kill, New Mexico State won six of its final seven games to earn bowl eligibility and take down Bowling Green in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.

A big reason for the Aggies’ late-season surge was quarterback Diego Pavia. The Albuquerque native had been up-and-down for much of the 2022 campaign, but caught fire in the final three games, accounting for 13 total touchdowns.

“I just feel calm. That was a big thing last year at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t calm. I wasn’t playing like myself. When I started letting the process come to me, that’s when we started clicking,” Pavia said.

Heading into his second season with the Aggies, Pavia is the guy for New Mexico State in spring practice, which is a change from a season ago when he was fighting for the job. It’s put him at ease as he hopes to lead NMSU back to a bowl game next fall.

Pavia will lead an experienced NMSU offense in 2023 and that process starts with spring practices. One week into spring workouts, Pavia said things are coming together nicely for the Aggies. Having continuity from a season ago is a big help.

“A lot has changed (since last spring). The team comradery is there. I have a lot of trust in my receivers. Last year at this time, I didn’t know who was who, I didn’t know who could do what,” Pavia said. “But now, it’s a whole different ballgame because I know personnel, I know what’s coming in, I know the coach’s play calls and what to expect so it’s going smooth right now.”

Pavia’s confidence is obvious at practices and while there’s still a long way to go before the start of the 2023 season, he’s ready to put NMSU back in contention for a bowl game again.

NMSU will hold its 2023 Spring Game on April 20 and the Aggies open the 2023 season Aug. 26 at home against UMass.