Asa Jackson hadn’t run an official 40-yard dash since his senior year at Christian Brothers High in Sacramento.
But coming off a spring break of training with Boise State cornerback and childhood friend Brandon Thompson, the Cal Poly cornerback — beginning his senior season as a Mustang — blew that old mark away Friday.
Registering the fastest time on the team, Jackson was clocked at 4.40 seconds in an event aimed at getting players exposure to NFL scouts.
“The best way to attract scouts, especially to a small school like this is to run fast,” said Jackson, who boasted a 4.47 in high school, “and we came out here and ran fast. So, I’m pretty happy.
“A 4.40, that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Next year, I’ll try to get that 4.3.”
For Jackson and the rest of his Cal Poly teammates, “next year” started Monday.
The Mustangs began the first of 15 practice sessions at the Upper Sports Complex.
They’ll culminate spring drills with a Spring Game at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on April 30.
Jackson is one of 14 returning starters — along with running back Mark Rodgers, whose 4.46-second 40-yard dash was second among returning players — but with many regulars still recovering from last season’s injuries or offseason surgeries, the emphasis will likely be on lesser-known names.
With junior quarterback Andre Broadous firmly entrenched as the team’s starter, alterations to the team’s option attack will be receiving extended tryouts, too.
“You’ll see a couple different things offensively,” Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said before Monday. “You’ll notice some different things formationally.
“The changes we made, we’re going to give them a good opportunity to showcase themselves. And then we’re going to determine what we’re going to keep and what we’re not going to keep.”
The biggest unknown heading into camp is at receiver. The Mustangs do not return one who made a catch all of last season.
Redshirt freshman Lance Castañeda is a candidate to replace departed senior and NFL prospect Dominique Johnson at one spot, and senior Jarred Houston, who was third on the team with a 4.53-second 40, moves back to receiver after spending last season at running back.
Alternates also include Brandon Michalkiewicz, Josh Swaney, Ryan Taylor and Air Force transfer Joey Parris, but the team won’t truly know what it has at receiver until touted freshman recruit Willie Tucker arrives on campus for training camp in August.
Any offensive changes that take place will also happen with much of an experienced offensive line watching from the sideline.
Right tackle Art Munoz was awarded a sixth season of eligibility after applying for a medical redshirt. He’ll return to play opposite Giovanni Sani, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. Left tackle Scott Winnewisser, who has also battled injury, could move to right guard.
Left guard Maurice McClure and center Geoff Hyde also return, but both are coming off injuries as well. Those who were hurt will likely give way to younger backups during the spring.
The defensive line and defensive backfield will follow the same theme, and a new-look linebacking corps could be intriguing to follow.
Outside linebacker Kenny Jackson moves to the middle for his junior year, and sophomore Johnny Millard remains on the outside. Big-hitting sophomore safety Xavier Ramos is moving to linebacker and will battle senior Max Schulz for the other spot on the outside.
With six seniors coming back at defensive line looking to sap most of the playing time, there’s also an emphasis to find out what the team will have returning for 2012.
“On the defensive side of the ball, Andy Alcaraz, Nick Leyden, Sullivan Grosz,” Walsh said, “those guys are going to end up being our future as far as who we are on the defensive line.”