LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -Make no mistake, New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook is eager to take a shot at the NFL.
But first, a more pressing mission - ending his school's 48-year bowl drought.
``There's a lot of unfinished business,'' Holbrook said. ``I thought about going to the pros, but there's just too much that can still be done here. It's been so long for New Mexico State to be in a bowl game.''
Since 1960, to be exact.
The Aggies beat Utah State 20-13 in the Sun Bowl that year. They haven't returned to the postseason since and own the nation's longest skid.
``First goal is to go to a bowl game,'' said Holbrook, a senior from Hurst, Texas. ``We've been saying it for two years now. Those seasons haven't turned out the way we wanted, but I really have a good feeling about this one.''
The 6-foot-5, 246-pound Holbrook went through workouts for visiting NFL scouts last spring. Advised he was projected as a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick, he decided to return for his final year of college football.
Turns out there really wasn't anything to consider.
``I definitely was coming back,'' he said, with a smile. ``I just wanted to see what the NFL people thought about where I might be. I figured it didn't hurt to ask the question.''
The last New Mexico State quarterback to leave a big impression on the NFL was Charley Johnson, who after helping the Aggies to back-to-back Sun Bowl titles in 1959 and 1960 went on to a 15-year pro career.
New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme, who worked with former No. 1 draft pick Tim Couch when he was at Kentucky, believes Holbrook could be next.
``I think he is recognized by all the NFL people as a player who has tremendous potential,'' Mumme said.
Last fall Holbrook stretched his total number of school records to 36. He threw for 3,866 yards passing and 26 touchdowns as a junior, but New Mexico State struggled to a 4-9 season that offered some new experiences.
Holbrook fought through the fog of a concussion, played with injured ribs and was sidelined for two games. After the season Mumme disclosed that his signal-caller had missed about a month of practice.
``It's hard to have cracked ribs and play quarterback,'' Mumme said. ``But he is one of the toughest kids I've coached at that position, and he's had some terrific games when he was hurt.''
Holbrook said the injuries helped him appreciate the importance of practice, which he'd always taken for granted.
``It's tough. Maybe you don't feel situated as quickly when you get into the game,'' he said. ``Without the reps in practice, it might be the second quarter before you're feeling 100 percent comfortable with what's happening on the field.''
One area where his time on the bench was apparent - interceptions.
Although he became New Mexico State's career passing and total offense leader and set a school record with a 70.2 percent completion mark last fall, Holbrook threw 18 picks. As a sophomore, he had just nine.
``I didn't do my part,'' he said. ``I threw too many interceptions. I didn't help us win enough games. That's my goal for this year, to cut down on turnovers. If I can do that, I think we'll be in a bowl game.''

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