Projecting the development of high school football recruits is far from an exact science, but no matter the degree of difficulty, Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh can admit when things don’t turn out the way he thought.
He said as much to the rest of his staff this past week when referring to former Paso Robles High standout Mitchell Van Dyk, now a star senior offensive lineman for tonight’s opponent, Portland State.
Regarding Van Dyk, who was a 6-foot-9, 220-pound tight end/defensive lineman his senior season with the Bearcats, the Mustangs whiffed when they lost him to the Vikings.
Since arriving in Portland, Van Dyk has put on 70 pounds and developed into a three-year starter that Walsh believes has a bright future ahead of him.
“He’ll play in the NFL,” Walsh said. “He’s that good, and he’s developed into that kind of a player.
“They’ve allowed him to grow. He’s had to play early, which probably helped him in his maturing process. But I saw film of him as a freshman, and you watch film of him last year and this year, and he’s a completely different player. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Van Dyk anchors a running game that leads the nation averaging 328 yards per game for an offense racking up 612 yards per game.
Portland State and Eastern Illinois (617) are the only FCS teams averaging more than 537 total yards per game.
Walsh credited the production to Van Dyk, fellow senior lineman and three-year starter Mitch Gaulke and the rest of the Vikings blockers.
“They’re running the ball better than last year,” Walsh said.
“It starts with the five guys up front. I think that their offensive line understands what they’re supposed to do, how they do it, does it aggressively and with an attitude.
“They believe in their offensive line, and their offensive line gets it.”