Serving the High Plains

Tucumcari native named to NM Sports Hall of Fame

A Tucumcari native was among five individuals named Saturday to the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.

Danny Villanueva, born in Tucumcari as the ninth of 12 children in 1937, had several big moments of glory for New Mexico State University and then with the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.

Villanueva's family moved from Tucumcari to Phoenix just a few days after he was born. Villanueva later played high-school sports in Calexico, California.

He kicked a field goal and two extra points to help lead NMSU to a 29-12 victory over the University of New Mexico. The Aggies' victory broke an 18-game losing streak against UNM.

During his senior year, he made seven of eight field-goal attempts, including a 47-yarder. He was part of Aggies teams that won the Sun Bowl in 1959 and 1960. That was the last time NMSU appeared in a postseason football game.

Villanueva as an undrafted free agent played in the NFL a kicker and punter for five seasons with the Rams and three with the Cowboys before his retirement.

With the Rams, he led the league in punting yards for two seasons and set a team record with a 51-yard field goal.

With the Cowboys, he led the league in extra points in 1966 and set a record for most consecutive PATs converted (56).

Villanueva later became the co-founder of Univision, a massively influential Spanish-language TV network.

He died in 2015 at age 77 in California.

The other inductees were:

- Jennifer Goble Poyer, a basketball and volleyball star at Eastern New Mexico University;

- Cheryl Johnson, a state title-winning coach in girls softball at La Cueva and Volcano Vista;

- Ty Murray, a nine-time rodeo world champion who has extensive family and professional ties to New Mexico;

- Cindy Roybal, a member of the All-American Redheads women's basketball team and coach at New Mexico Highlands University and several high schools.

The induction ceremony will be Aug. 19 at the Albuquerque Convention Center.