Picking up a big preseason honor Wednesday, Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson would like it even more if he earned the same title at the end of the year.
Jackson, named Great West Football Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, wouldn’t even mind if his name went uncalled this winter if it’s replaced by team success.
“I just want to win,” said Jackson, who as a true freshman starter in 2008 helped lead the Mustangs to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, where they were abruptly bounced by Weber State.
“After having all the success that we had my first year here — and then we just kind of tasted it and got it all snatched away from us — I’m really hungry for more team stuff.
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“The accolades are great, but I want wins.”
Jackson was the conference freshman of the year after notching 42 tackles and two interceptions in 2008 and was named to the All-Great West first team with 48 tackles, two picks and eight pass deflections last season.
Cornerbacks don’t normally put up gaudy statistics because the best ones are usually avoided by the opposition.
Jackson’s selection in spite of that convention says a lot.
“He’s a special football player,” said Cal Poly defensive coordinator Greg Lupfer, who will also coach defensive backs this year. “He’s got all the intangibles. He’s got everything you want as a corner. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and hit, and he can play man-to-man coverage every down if you needed him to.”
The conference also announced Southern Utah senior receiver Tysson Poots as its preseason conference offensive player of the year. Poots caught 12 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown against Cal Poly last year. He had 246 yards and a touchdown on 16 receptions, a record for a Mustangs opponent, on the same night Ramses Barden broke one of Jerry Rice’s NCAA touchdown records in 2008.
Often lining up in the slot, Poots has not matched up with Jackson very often in the past. Will the two be facing off much this season?
“I’m sure we’ll be talking about that going into that game,” Jackson said. “We’ll see though. Hopefully we are, just to give everyone something to write about.”
Cal Poly travels to Cedar City, Utah, to face the Thunderbirds on Oct. 16.
Rodgers expects to be cleared to practice soon
Junior running back Mark Rodgers, a transfer from West Virginia, said he passed the online math course he needed in order to be admitted to Cal Poly and is awaiting the paperwork to clear so he can begin practicing with the team.
He is unsure when that clearance will come, but Rodgers is presently in San Luis Obispo, attended Mustangs football practice Wednesday and is eager to get on the field.
“I love the plays. I like the offense,” Rodgers said. “I like the way the practice set-up is. It’s similar to West Virginia, just the way they run things.
“I’m just ready to get out there.”
Cal Poly opened camp Aug. 9, and Rodgers has already missed nine days of practice. In order to be eligible for the season opener against Humboldt State on Sept. 4, he has to take part in 10 practice sessions.
He realizes he is falling behind the rest of the running backs.
“That’s pretty bad, but I just got to take what I’m given and take advantage of my opportunities when I get the chance,” Rodgers said, “work my way up the depth chart.”
Cal Poly men’s soccer picked to finish third
A year after earning the program’s best regular season Big West results, the Mustangs men’s soccer team was picked to finish third in the conference preseason coaches’ poll.
The six conference victories and second-place finish were both program bests set last season.
Cal Poly returns four all-Big West selections and its top five goal scorers from a team that finished 8-10-2 overall and 6-3-1 in the Big West a year ago.
Defending regular season champion UC Santa Barbara was picked to repeat with a total of 48 points and six of the seven first-place votes. UC Irvine (43 points) received the other first-place vote, and Cal Poly came in with 28 points.