The Cal Poly football team will officially welcome the latest crop of soon-to-be Mustangs on Wednesday, and the 2017 class is shaping up to be one of the largest in recent history.
Ninth-year head coach Tim Walsh and his assistants have spent the past several months securing verbal commitments from prep and junior college standouts throughout California. This year’s group could have as many as 22 players sign a binding National Letter of Intent as part of what is now commonly known as National Signing Day.
Walsh and his coaching staff will announce the class at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Cal Poly Football Office.
The Mustangs inked a 19-member class in 2015, which was the largest opening-day haul in Walsh’s tenure. Cal Poly signed a 17-member class last February, and went on to have an exciting 2016 season that ended with the first home FCS playoff game in eight years.
A group of 17 seniors — including 12 combined starters on offense and defense — must be replaced, and those close to the program have expressed optimism about this year’s incoming class.
Because coaches are not allowed to speak about recruits before Wednesday, it’s difficult to know for certain which players will stick to their verbal commitments. The Mustangs’ top prospect, Bay Area linebacker Kyle Harmon, backed out of his verbal commitment Sunday and announced he received a scholarship offer from Cal.
With that in mind, here’s a rundown of what the 2017 Cal Poly football recruiting class looks like as of Tuesday afternoon:
After signing five prep running backs a year ago, the Mustangs have four more recruits who could join the fray next fall. Claremont High School star Duy Tran-Sampson appears to be the leader of that group, having rushed for more than 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns in his three-year career.
Replacing second-team all-Big Sky Conference quarterback Dano Graves will be a key focus in spring and fall camp, though that job will likely be secured by junior Khaleel Jenkins. Michael Austin and Jake Jeffrey each used a redshirt in 2016, so they should have a leg up on incoming quarterbacks Kyle Reid (Los Gatos) and Conor Bruce (Garces Memorial) when camp opens in August.
For the second year in a row, Cal Poly is expected to sign one wide receiver in Mater Dei Catholic’s Elijah Shelton.
The Mustangs graduated three starting offensive linemen in All-American Jake Fisher, guard Billy Shipman and tackle Nick Enriquez. So far, De La Salle’s Wade Willet, Oaks Christian standout Nicolo Difronzo and Cathedral Catholic’s DJ Stuckey have given verbal commitments to help fill those voids for the Mustangs.
It seems clear Cal Poly made a push to build some depth along the defensive line.
With three key seniors graduating, the Mustangs are expected to sign five prep standouts in Pouono Faaagi (Vista Murrieta), Stanton Manumaleuna (Norte Vista), Myles Cecil (La Salle), Nick Figueroa (Cajon High) and Kain Su’a (Rancho Verde).
That groups measures at an average of more than 6-foot-2 and 264 pounds.
Two linebackers — Fenton Will of St. Joseph and Patrick Walker of American River College — and two defensive backs — Del Oro’s Mason Hurst and Orange Coast College’s Sharky Reza — round out Cal Poly’s incoming defensive prospects.
Hurst’s three-year career at Del Oro High in Loomis, which included two trips to the CIF state championship game, was nothing short of superb. He caught 159 passes for 2,863 yards and scored 25 total touchdowns. From the safety position, Hurst made 223 tackles and intercepted 14 passes.
Cal Poly Recruits
Kyle Reid, QB, Los Gatos High School, Los Gatos
Conor Bruce, QB, Garces Memorial High School, Bakersfield
CJ Cole, RB, St. Joseph High School, Santa Maria
Broc Mortensen, RB, Ventura High School, Ventura
Duy Tran-Sampson, RB, Claremont High School, Claremont
Emari Demercado, RB, Downey High School, Downey
Elijah Shelton, WR, Mater Dei Catholic High School, Chula Vista
Wade Willet, OL, De La Salle High School, Concord
Nicolo Difronzo, OL, Oaks Christian High School, Westlake Village
DJ Stuckey, OL, Cathedral High School, Los Angeles
Fenton Will, LB, St. Joseph High School, Santa Maria
Patrick Walker, LB, American River College, Elk Grove
Sharky Reza, CB, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa
Mason Hurst, S, Del Oro High School, Loomis
Pouono Faaagi, DL, Vista Murrieta High School, Murrieta
Stanton Manumaleuna, DL, Norte Vista High School, Riverside
Myles Cecil, DL, La Salle High School, Pasadena
Nick Figueroa, DL, Cajon High School, San Bernardino
Kain Su’a, DL, Rancho Verde High School, Moreno Valley