Ex-Miami WR now an Aggie

The University of Miami's loss is New Mexico State's gain. Akieem Jolla, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver from the Hurricanes who was considered one of the nation's best prep wide receivers coming out of high school in 2002, has signed a scholarship offer to transfer from Miami and join the Aggies this spring. A source associated with NMSU athletics confirmed the signing on Thursday

A fourth-year junior at Miami, Jolla has one year of eligibility remaining. He transferred to NMSU only after the NCAA granted him a hardship waiver (of the customary transfer rules) which would have required Jolla to sit out one year before being allowed to play for another Division I program.

The grounds for his appeal were based on his desire to be closer to his ailing mother, Letha Jolla. The Jolla's home in New Orleans was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and his mother was evacuated to the Houston area. She is now expected to be moving to the Las Cruces area and Jolla will be enrolled at NMSU for the Spring semester.

A telephone message left with Jolla by the Sun-News was not returned Thursday.

"In their offense I can get a lot accomplished. It's the best situation for me. I can take care of my mom, be there for her, but I still get to ball," Jolla told the Orlando Sentinel. "Hal Mumme likes to pass the ball a lot so I'll have plenty of opportunities to have a good year, but my main goal is to come in and prove I can be a team leader."

Jolla will likely play the receiving position occupied in 2005 by the graduating Paul Dombrowski, who set a school record with 78 receptions.

Coming out of St. Augustine (New Orleans) High School in the spring of 2002, Jolla was part of the Hurricane's first recruiting class after their national championship in January 2002 (following the 2001 season). As a true freshman at Miami, Jolla -- who has been clocked at under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash -- played in all 13 games as a receiver and on special teams before sitting out as a red shirt sophomore in 2003. The Hurricanes lost to Ohio State in overtime of that season's national championship game.

In his four years -- three playing seasons -- at Miami, Jolla has 24 catches for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was rated as a top 5 receiver out of high school by numerous scouting services and was rated the nation's number 41 prospect (regardless of position) by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report.

Miami coach Larry Coker granted Jolla's release from scholarship in December after his request to be closer to his mother.

Jolla's signing is in addition to what appears to be shaping up as a very impressive recruiting class for Hal Mumme's Aggies in his first full year on the recruiting trail. This year's a recruiting class will be expected to contribute immediately to improve an Aggie squad that went 0-12 last year and currently holds the nations longest losing streak.

NMSU officials are not allowed to comment on potential recruits until Feb. 1, the NCAA's official national signing day. Around 15 recruits are expected to be signed by Mumme and his staff -- a number reflecting several scholarships being taken away by the NCAA.

The NCAA will be taking a still undetermined number of scholarships away from NMSU due to minimum graduation rates not being met by players. Those numbers, as determined by the NCAA's APR report, are based on graduation rates of scholarship players at NMSU prior to Mumme's hire last season.

Geoff Grammer can be reached at ggrammer@lcsun-news.com

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