This is the fourth in an eight-part series breaking down the Cal Poly football team’s depth chart.
Who’s back: Preseason All-American Kori Garcia figures to be one of the top players to watch in the Big Sky Conference. After being pushed into a starting role as a sophomore, Garcia rushed for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns in 2014. The Los Angeles native said he’s been “wearing the trainers out” this offseason while recovering from a broken bone in his foot suffered in April. Garcia got the hard cast taken off his foot in July and has looked exceptionally fast early in fall camp. Sophomore fullback Joe Protheroe also returns and he could be counted on for more carries after backing up 900-yard rusher Brandon Howe last season.
Who’s new: The arrival of junior transfer DJ Peluso from College of San Mateo has coaches and players excited. At 6-foot and 228 pounds, Peluso is one of the bigger running backs on the roster and he’s proven to be a more than capable receiver during fall camp. Having run a similar offense at San Mateo, Peluso is listed on the depth chart as a potential starter alongside sophomore Kyle Lewis. Lewis was used in a variety of roles as a freshman, developing into Cal Poly’s most consistent kickoff returner. Speedy redshirt freshman Malcolm Davis was the Mustangs’ offensive scout team player of the year in 2014 and he’ll bring more energy to the running back competition this month.
Garcia’s take: “Coach has a high demand for us. As soon as we get in the meeting room he wants us to know both (positions) just so we can be interchangeable. If one guy goes down we can jump in.”
Projected depth chart:
FB: Joe Protheroe, Soph., 6-0, 230. Jared Mohamed, Soph., 6-0, 215. Trey Nahhas, Fr., 6-1, 195.
RB: DJ Peluso, Jr., 6-0, 225. Kyle Lewis, Soph., 6-0, 202. Kevin Porche, Jr., 5-10, 195. Elias Stokes, Jr., 5-11, 190.
RB: Kori Garcia, Jr., 5-10, 195. Alex Suchesk, RFr., 5-10, 185. Malcolm Davis, Fr., 5-8, 165.
What to watch: By the end of last season, quarterback Chris Brown’s 249 carries had taken their toll. Look for Garcia and Peluso to alleviate some of that burden, assuming Garcia avoids any lapses with his foot recovery when he’s cleared for full-contact practice Tuesday. Peluso is one of the more intriguing additions to the roster and he’s certainly created some buzz around practice early in camp. It will be interesting to see if Protheroe can take another step forward as a sophomore. The Concord native was the third-leading rusher in California as a prep senior, piling up more than 3,000 yards and 34 touchdowns. If some of that big-play ability shows through, Protheroe should be able to adequately replace the production of the graduated Howe.