Gunnar Jespersen wasn’t quite sure if football would be in his future when he graduated from Atascadero High in 2007.
“If you had asked me three years ago, I wouldn’t have said I’d be playing Division I football in Connecticut,” Jespersen said. “I didn’t have a clue.”
Now he does. Jespersen, a two-time all-San Luis Obispo County quarterback for the Greyhounds in 2005 and 2006, who went on to play at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, has verbally committed to continue his career at Central Connecticut State.
The Blue Devils, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) program in New Britain, Conn., went 9-3 this past season, winning the Northeast Conference championship.“I’m happy everything panned out the way it did,” Jespersen said Friday from Charlotte, N.C., while flying home from the East Coast. “Just to get to continue my career as a football player, I’m excited.”
Jespersen visited the campus this past week before being offered a full-ride scholarship.
During his two years starting under center for Atascadero, Jespersen passed for a combined 2,960 yards and 25 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, and rushed for a total of 578 yards and 12 scores while leading the Greyhounds to a 16-6 mark.
As a sophomore at Hancock this past season, Jespersen completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 1,807 yards and 16 touchdowns with three interceptions, and added 332 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 74 carries on his way to earning all-National Division Northern Conference first-team honors. The Bulldogs went 9-2, advancing to the regional playoffs.
He expects to formally sign his National Letter of Intent within the next week, he said. Jespersen also had several scholarship offers from the Division II and NAIA ranks, he said.
Even though Cal Poly’s coaching staff liked his abilities and potential, Jespersen said, the Mustangs were unable to bring him in on scholarship, as they’ve already allotted six to quarterbacks heading into next season.
As a 5-foot-10, 186-pound, mobile passer, Jespersen said the Blue Devils told him their offense — which operates both out of an I formation and the shotgun to move the pocket outside the tackles box — would be tailored to suit his talents.
“With what they do with their offense, there are no gray areas as far as what I can do for them,” Jespersen said.
His head coach at Hancock, Kris Dutra, agreed that Jespersen found the right fit.
“From talking with their coaches, those guys have a really good idea of what they’re getting and how they plan to utilize his ability,” Dutra said. “They really did their homework on him. He is only 5-9, and for a school all the way out there to recruit a kid from all the way out here is just a testament to how good Gunnar really is.
“He’s as good as anybody I’ve ever worked with,” Dutra added. “If you give him a chance, he’s going to make a believer out of you.”
Dutra also coached a similarly efficient dual-threat signal-caller in Jonathan Dally, a Righetti High grad who went on to break numerous passing records at Cal Poly from 2007 to 2008. While Jespersen is seen as more of a power runner than Dally, Dutra said, there are obvious comparisons between the two.
“I think Gunnar and Jonathan are very similar in a lot of ways,” Dutra said. “They’re the kind of guys that are true quarterbacks, meaning they can take whatever system you teach them and put their own stamp on it and take ownership of it.
“Both of those guys have the intangibles.”
Trujillo also likely to land at Div. I school
Another county product who recently starred at Hancock, sophomore punter Michael Trujillo, is also likely to eventually find a place at a Division I program, Dutra said, although the process may take longer for him, as it often does for kickers and punters.
Trujillo, a Nipomo High graduate, averaged 41.9 yards on 51 punts this past year, landing 15 of them inside the 20-yard line en route to earning all-conference first-team status.
“Every year, in March, I get a call from a coach saying, ‘I need a punter — now,’” Dutra said. “And then (Trujillo) will be gone.”