ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lobo’s redshirt sophomore Tyler Kiehne is slated to start at nose tackle against Texas A&M on Saturday. It will be the first collegiate start for the former Los Lunas standout, and it’s not coming in a way that he ever expected.

During his high school career with the Tigers, Kiehne became the highest rated recruit in all of New Mexico in 2020. In his last full high school season, he recorded 56 tackles with 13.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks, leading the Los Lunas defense to a class 5A state championship in 2019. Following a shortened 2020 season, he took his talents to UCLA.

Following his true freshman redshirt year with the Bruins in 2021, Kiehne decided to transfer back home and play for UNM. In his first season with the Lobos, the defensive lineman battled early-season injuries and only appeared in seven games. He only recorded two tackles the entirety of his redshirt freshman year, which frustrated and fueled him to become the player that college scouts knew he could be three years ago.

“I have been waiting for my time, I feel like I have put in the work, and I have proved to myself and the coaches that I am the guy for the job as of now,” said Kiehne. “So, I am excited, I mean this is what I have always worked to do, so I am not shocked but I am excited.”

Over the last two years, Kiehne has struggled to find his role as a collegiate player. He was always the star player growing up, and it took a new commitment in the weight room to get on the field.

“He has physically changed his body and give him the credit,” said UNM head coach Danny Gonzales. “They wanted him to be a 300 pound 3-technique at UCLA and that’s not who Tyler Kiehne is best at and he’s now around 275 LBS right now and he looks really really quick like he did in high school.”

Now, three years into his college career, Kiehne is finally ready to contribute. While the last two years have been frustrating for him, he is able to apply the knowledge he collected on the sidelines into the trenches.

“Being in this for 3-years now and being at a school for UCLA learned a ton. I practiced against dudes that got drafted, so you know I have a lot of experience. I got a first quick step, I know the defense, and bringing that strength aspect into the equation gives me a whole other edge, along with my speed and agility.”