The best FCS teams have to make a living on the talented players that, for whatever reason, fall through the cracks of major college football.
And Cal Poly may have just got one because of a devastating crack that had FBS-level college suitors holding off to see how it would heal.
Poway running back Lance Mudd said he gave the Mustangs a verbal commitment while Pac-12 and Mountain West programs wanted to see how he performed this season after breaking both bones in his left forearm last year before making scholarship offers.
Mudd said Washington was among those interested after he made several appearances in the football camp circuit this offseason, where he was clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
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“I went to these camps and I ran 4.4s,” Mudd said. “My vertical is like 37-plus inches at those camps, and then they gave me love. The whole coaching staff was going crazy.
“They all said the same thing: ‘You’re going to blow up with offers,’ and they’ll be in touch."
The problem was Mudd’s numbers on the field “just weren’t there to be convinced to offer,” he said. “I think it was the broken arm.”
Poway High’s football program has no published statistics from the 2012 season on its website or MaxPreps.com profile, but Mudd said he had more than 500 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game when his season abruptly ended.
In the eighth game of the year, a 45-0 win at San Diego Westview, Mudd said he was tackled by multiple opponents and the stress of their combined weight caused his arm to snap, with the broken ends of the bones of his forearms bending in across each other.
The gruesome injury required surgery to implant titanium plates and 16 screws to help heal the fractures.
The three-sport athlete was unable to play basketball but did compete in track and field for Poway, running a season-best 10.99 seconds in the 100 meters and 22.35 seconds in the 200 and showing no ill-effects to his arm.
“It healed perfectly,” Mudd said. “I can do all my motions and everything, and it’s actually stronger.
"Because of the titanium in the plates and what they’ve done with it now, it’s so strong, it won’t break. The arm will not break again.”
Still, among those who wanted to see before believing, Mudd said, was Cal Poly.
Mudd said the staff envisions him in the mold of a hybrid running back and receiver, a position currently fielded by Cole Stanford, but Mustangs were taking a conservative approach similar to their recruiting rivals, he said, until running backs coach Aristotle Thompson helped convince head coach Tim Walsh that Cal Poly should snatch Mudd while it was still early.
Mudd said Walsh phoned in his scholarship offer in July, and after just a couple days to think about it, Mudd called back and accepted.
Coaches are prohibited from publicly commenting on recruits before they sign letters of intent, and the signing period for football does not open until Feb. 5, 2014.
Verbal commitments are non-binding, but Mudd said he’d rather move away from the recruiting process and concentrate on his high school senior season.
“A ton of schools were interested and said that they would offer,” Mudd said. “Now that I committed, two of them have thrown offers, but I’m already committed at Cal Poly.”