2023 Los Lunas graduate Paul Cieremans, No. 7, is excited about the future of New Mexico State University football following his red shirt freshman season.

While Paul Cieremans, the former Los Lunas quarterback, did not play during his redshirt freshman season as a walk-on at New Mexico State University, he did have a front-row seat and a role in what was a historic season for the Aggies.  

NMSU has often been on lists of the worst college football programs in the country, but the Aggies posted a 10-5 record and were invited to the Isleta New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.  

“It was awesome,” Cieremans said of his first season in crimson and white. “The coaches were great. Coach (Jerry) Kill was an awesome leader — a good little crazy dude. When he’s on your side, you love it.”  

However, following the bowl game, a 37-10 loss to Fresno State, Kill resigned at NMSU after his second season. Aggies receivers coach Tony Sanchez, a Las Cruces native and former head coach at UNLV, takes over the program.  

Cieremans said the two have had “a couple of good conversations. He’s going to get our program right, just like coach Kill.”  

Another change could impact Cieremans directly, with standout quarterback Diego Pavia entering the transfer portal.  

“It creates an opportunity, but I still have to work,” he said.   

At this point, it’s unclear who will be in the NMSU quarterbacks’ room, but Cieremans, a walk-on for the Aggies, believes the red shirt season has shown he can play at this level.  

“Yes, sir. It’s taken a little time to mature and grow up in a sense. It was part of learning — getting bigger, faster, stronger,” Cieremans said. “And now, it’s applying it, all the stuff I worked on, and maybe get a chance to play.”  

Former Los Lunas quarterback Paul Cieremans, now at New Mexico State, gets instruction from Tigers’ coach Greg Henington during the 2022 football season.

Performing well during spring practice will be a key, Cieremans points out.   

His duties last season included running the scout team at practice, taking on the characteristics of that weeks’ opposing quarterback. That’s one reason he takes “a whole lot of pride” in what the Aggies accomplished last season.  

“Coach Kill told us all the time, ‘we’re getting the starters ready to play. We’re an important part of the puzzle.’”  

Despite all the changes coming into his second year, Cieremans, the lone Valencia County athlete on the NMSU football roster, says the Aggies have the same objectives. 

“Our main goal is to win the conference (Conference USA) and the state championship,” he said, referring to the annual game against the University of New Mexico, which NMSU won in 2023.  

Of course, returning to a bowl game is near the top of the list. Cieremans was allowed to suit up for the Isleta New Mexico Bowl, even though he didn’t see any action. 

“The whole thing was fun,” He said. “A great experience and great memories.”  

In addition to football, Cieremans has enjoyed campus life, the city of Las Cruces, with El Paso not far away. Being only a few hours away from home is also a positive.  

“I’m super blessed and super grateful for the opportunity I have,” Cieremans said. 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.