Zach Schottenfeld didn’t show up in San Luis Obispo until training camp was almost over.
The transfer kicker from Utah stepped onto the Cal Poly football practice field, and just a couple days later, he was kicking in the preseason intrasquad scrimmage.
After visiting sister and Cal Poly student Kiley back in May, Schottenfeld made contact with the Mustangs and expressed his interest in leaving the Utes.
The process, from getting his release, finishing up some summer school and getting accepted at Cal Poly, contributed to his late arrival, but the Mustangs are certainly glad he made it.
The redshirt freshman has assumed the role of placekicker after the hip injury junior Stephen Pyle suffered three weeks ago at South Dakota State proved more serious than originally thought.
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said Pyle is not being counted on to return this season, which has created a ripple effect across most special teams units.
Pyle was handling kickoffs, field goals, punts and PATs before the injury. Now, senior slotback Chris Nicholls is punting, redshirt freshman James Foug is kicking off and Schottenfeld is responsible for putting points on the board.
Schottenfeld has yet to attempt a field goal, but he said he is comfortable kicking from 40 yards with his range extending to 45. He did make all six of his PATs in last week’s 42-14 victory over Portland State.
“What he did the other night was show some confidence and did some good things,” Walsh said, “and we’re expecting that to grow.”
Schottenfeld was recruited as a preferred walk-on to Utah out of Tesoro High in Orange County but became disenchanted with the Utes after another freshman became the starter.
Schottenfeld said he wanted to go to a program he could help on the field, and Cal Poly made sense. Mustangs quarterbacks coach Juston Wood had shown interest in him coming out of high school, and Schottenfeld was familiar with several Cal Poly players from the Rancho Santa Margarita area.
“I was just thrilled that I had the opportunity,” Schottenfeld said. “They welcomed me into the team. I was just thrilled that they gave me the opportunity. I was just coming in hoping I could contribute in some way whether it’s punting, kickoffs or field goals. It’s nice I got to play in my first game on Saturday.”