The Cal Poly football team officially began its fall training camp Monday afternoon at the upper field of the Cal Poly Sports Complex.
The first of 28 fall practices leading up to the Sept. 5 season opener at Montana was formatted with players in shorts and helmets. The Mustangs will be in shorts and helmets again Tuesday and will add shoulder pads Wednesday, leading up to the first full-pad practice on Friday.
Monday’s practice seemed to be an opportunity for players to knock off some of the summer rust. The punt team got extended work throughout practice, with individual drills and 7-on-7 sessions mixed in.
“For our first day, everybody was flying around,” senior cornerback Chris Fletcher said. “I liked the tempo, I liked the energy.”
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Seventh-year head coach Tim Walsh said he liked the pace of practice, telling the team he thought it was “a great first day.” That will need to be a consistent theme for the Mustangs, who have a plethora of talent returning on offense and a few key holes to fill on defense. Slotback DJ Peluso, a junior transfer from College of San Mateo, was among the players who stood out individually after making a couple a nice catches over the middle during one of the 7-on-7 periods.
The highlight of that session came from two true freshmen toward the end of practice.
Quarterback Khaleel Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound San Diego native, connected with wide receiver J.J. Koski on a long pass down the sideline that would have gone for a touchdown. Fletcher said Koski arrived on campus early this summer and has impressed teammates so far. Walsh also mentioned the Danville native as someone he was excited to watch throughout fall camp.
“The new guys are picking up things very quickly,” said senior wide receiver Roland Jackson Jr., who led the team in receiving last season. “So we get to pump up the tempo. We’re feeling great.
“We’re feeling like we have a great opportunity.”
Allen Brown added to coaching staff
Cal Poly added former Eastern Washington standout Allen Brown to the coaching staff Monday.
The 24-year-old Brown will serve as an assistant coach in charge of cornerbacks. He and first-year assistant coach Jacob Yoro will help guide a secondary that returns all-Big Sky Conference performers Fletcher and Karlton Dennis.
Brown was a two-time all-conference strong safety during his career with the Eagles. The Anchorage, Alaska, native, played in a school-record 51 games for Eastern Washington, recording 237 tackles and helping the team win the 2010 FCS national championship. Brown served as a strength and conditioning intern at Eastern Washington last fall.
“I had some good references on this guy,” Walsh said. “He’s been here a couple weeks and he’s a bright young coach.”
He replaces Terrence Brown, the older brother of Mustangs quarterback Chris Brown, who was hired in April but resigned to accept a graduate assistant coaching position at the University of Washington.
Four Big Sky teams land in preseason poll
Four-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State was the overwhelming favorite, receiving 144 of the 147 first-place votes and 3,671 points.
Eastern Washington was ranked sixth in the poll, followed by No. 11 Montana State, 13th-ranked Montana and No. 22 Idaho State among Big Sky representatives.
Cal Poly and Northern Arizona also received votes in the preseason rankings.