ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Elijah Lilly averaged nearly 24 yards per return while returning 31 kickoffs for the University of New Mexico Lobos in his sophomore season last year. It was his performance at one game in particular that got Lobos Coach Bob Davie thinking about getting Lilly on the field more often.
In addition to his kickoff return duties, Lilly also played as a defensive back for the Lobos. Davie has switched the speedster to receiver.
“I made the decision probably when he was running that kickoff against Texas A&M,” said Davie. “He needs to touch the ball. You know, he is too dynamic with his hands on the ball and particularly with what we are doing on offense. We will maybe spread out just a little bit more.”
Lilly returned a touchdown for 100 yards in the game against A&M last season. It will be awhile before he runs another one back or even play receiver for the Lobos. The Lobos are in spring ball at the moment, but Lilly is recovering from labrum surgery. He can only watch and get mental reps while he heals.
“I knew I had to get surgery eventually,” said Lilly. “I messed up my shoulder in high school actually. I didn’t know it was that bad. I went to the doctor. They told me I just strained my rotator cuff and then coming in through freshman year I had fell on it and I knew there was something wrong.”
While he waits Lilly can dream of what the season might hold for his speed at a new position.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Lilly. “I’m happy to get out there with my teammates and just put us in the best opportunity to win as many games as we can.”
The Lobos are in their second week of spring football.