Over the course of December, we at the Optic will be doing 2021 sports superlatives. We will be recognizing the top male athlete, female athlete, male newcomer, female newcomer, coach of the year, team of the year and game of the year. After a pandemic pause starting in March 2020 sports came back in full force in New Mexico and we had some great athletes, teams, coaches and games to choose from in 2021. None of these choices were easy, but we had to make a choice in every category. Now we will be recognizing the Optic’s 2021 male newcomer of the year, NMHU football’s CJ Sims.
CJ Sims transferred to NMHU from Butler Community College and had quite the showing when he first put on a Cowboy uniform in April’s Spring game. Before the season started, head coach Josh Kirkland compared Sims to Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
That was a bold comparison to say the least, as Hill is one of the best receivers in all of football and one of the fastest men on the planet. Sims responded to that preseason comparison by receiving the season’s opening kickoff and racing past every Fort Lewis player on his way to a 93-yard touchdown. That play basically summarizes what happened when Sims got the ball in his hands, he raced past everybody and scored. When you think about Cowboy football in 2021, it’s CJ Sims running past the opponent. He reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, and on the football field he looks even faster.
The Cowboys went 5-6 this season, a vast improvement from their 2-9 campaign in 2019, but were not one of the RMAC teams to qualify for the Division II postseason. Even with that being the case Sims was voted as the RMAC offensive player of the year. Conference player of the year awards are typically reserved for the best player on the best team in the conference, but the conference awarded Sims the offensive player of the year award, showing you just how highly the receiver was thought of by those who had to go against him. On the season Sims caught 64 passes for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sims also returned two kicks for touchdowns and had 516 yards in the return game.
Anyone who watched a Cowboys game this season was impressed by just how fast Sims could run; it was the first thing that caught your attention when you watched this team. He would have fans jaws drop when he would run down a pass that upon the release would look like it was certainly overthrown, but it was just about impossible to overthrow Sims. With his speed he could blaze past defenders and run down almost any pass. The only way you could really stop Sims was by either double teaming him, or just pressuring the quarterback enough so he could not get the ball to Sims. If the pass was put in the air, Sims was likely going to run it down, and once the ball was in his hands there was little anybody could do to keep him from making a big play.
There were some great newcomers to the athletic scene here in Las Vegas. Robertson multi-sport star Mateo Contreras was a contributor to the Cardinal’s district championship basketball team, had the second most receiving yards in 3A for the Cardinals state championship team and was an all-district and all-state player on the gridiron. West Las Vegas freshman quarterback CJ Perea was an all-district performer for the Dons, throwing for the most yards in 3A by a wide margin and was seventh overall in the state in passing yards. Sims, though, is uniquely gifted and was the RMAC offensive player of the year, a conference with many talented players on that side of the ball. Everyone who watched Sims was blown away, coaches, fans and media members alike. He was remarkable on the field, and well deserving of being the Optic’s 2021 male newcomer of the year.