Earlier this month WNMU Athletic Director Scott Noble announced the hiring of Philip Vigil as the new head coach of Mustang football. Vigil will replace Frank Tristan who left the position earlier this year to return to Missouri where his wife had taken a job. Vigil arrives at Western with an impressive resume at both the Division I & II levels.
Vigil was an All-Conference QB at Colorado Mesa University. Upon graduation he began his coaching career that generally included involvement with the quarterbacks, running backs, and recruiting. With stops at Ft. Hays, NW Missouri, Colorado Mesa, and D-I Stephen F. Austin. His recruiting classes have always been highly ranked, but probably none more so than while at SFA where he recruited back-to-back #1 ranked recruiting classes. Those classes included several players that had verbal commitments to SEC schools. Among them was Ja'quarion Turner who made First Team All-Conference in 2020 as a freshman.
Coach Vigil admits that when he was first contacted by a mutual friend of his and Scott Noble, he wasn't too interested in the job. But after talking to Noble, he liked the vision Scott had for the football program. Combined with Dr. Shepherd's vision for WNMU, and Coach Vigil was ready to jump in with both feet.
Vigil is familiar with Western football and believes a winning program can be built here. While an assistant at Colorado Mesa, he was part of several games against RMAC foe WNMU that were very exciting. He remembered Mitch Glassman and several of the wide receivers that could move the ball.
Vigil's plan is to heavily recruit NM, AZ, CO, and CA. With Dixie State moving Division I FCS, Western is the closest D-II school for Arizona and California players. He also has watched Coach Kelly at Eastern NM recruit NM kids while Western and Highlands have lagged behind their cross-state rival. Coach Vigil believes there are kids in NM that can play with the best in the country and he wants them to not only stay in state, but choose the Mustangs over the other NM schools.
Getting such a late start will put Western behind in recruiting and retaining former players. Reggie Colson, an outstanding receiver for the Mustangs has decided to transfer to Lone Star Conference rival Texas A&M Commerce, but Vigil is not giving up on him and has been discussing returning to the Purple & Gold. He'll also being watching the transfer portal, hoping to get 20-30 kids from other D-II schools as well as D-I schools.
Vigil has filled out most of his staff and they are all busy contacting the returning players. Their first goal is to get them to return to Silver City for the summer. Vigil is used to having most of the kids remain over the summer to work with each other. Coaches can have limited contact with players but can set expectations and get them moving in the right direction. He expects to have about 50 players returning by the end of the month.
As far as expectations for the upcoming season, Vigil is realistic. Often you hear coaches talk about high expectations and competing at the highest levels right away. Coach V knows that not having a full recruiting season or spring practice will put the Mustangs well behind other teams. But they will work hard, be creative with the offense and play solid defense with the goal of being in every game when the fourth quarter rolls around. "If you're in the game then, you have a chance." Teams that he's been associated with in the past have taken advantage of that and had success. It also builds confidence in the players and builds a winning attitude. For the long term, that's what the first time head coach is looking for: Winners.