LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – Sophomore walk-on quarterback Dino Maldonado will start under center for New Mexico State on Saturday when the Aggies host South Carolina State.
NMSU head coach Doug Martin named Maldonado the starter for the Aggies’ fourth game of the season at his Tuesday press conference. Maldonado will start in place of Jonah Johnson, who exited NMSU’s Sept. 11 loss to New Mexico with an injury to his throwing wrist.
Martin said that they didn’t yet know a timeline for Johnson’s return, or if he would need surgery. Johnson underwent an MRI on Monday and NMSU was still deciding how to proceed as of Tuesday.
Maldonado relieved Johnson on Saturday in the 34-25 loss to the Lobos, going 13-34 for 192 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while also rushing for 46 yards. On campus at NMSU for barely six weeks, Maldonado was thrust into action when Johnson went down because regular back-up Weston Eget is also out with a knee injury.
“I can’t say enough about how well he played in that situation,” said NMSU center Eli Johnson. “We moved the ball well with him at times and he kept us in the game. He played well considering the circumstances and with a week of practice, I think we can win with him.”
Maldonado was thrust into action by surprise vs. the Lobos and still played well. Now, with a chance to practice as the starter, the Aggies believe he could be the answer at the position in their time of need.
“It’s always easier once you’ve played,” said Martin. “Now that he’s played, he’ll be a lot more calm during the game and hopefully see things better during the game. Everyone gets better with playing time. Him getting some experience, I think he’ll be much better this week.”
Freshman Trevor Appelman will back up Maldonado vs. South Carolina State, after returning from COVID-19 protocols in the last few days. Depth at the quarterback position is now at a premium, with Maldonado and Appelman holding down the position group while Johnson and Eget heal. Martin has not released a timeline for Eget’s return, either.
NMSU will host South Carolina State at 6 p.m. Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium.