Much of Max Betkowski’s athletic career at Cal Poly has been spent behind the scenes, yet he quietly has one of the more interesting stories on campus.
Betkowski earned a spot on the men’s basketball team in 2012 after an open tryout his freshman year. He joined the Mustangs’ football team as a tight end two years later – his first organized football since age 10 – and has served as an assistant to strength and conditioning coach Chris Holder along the way.
Monday morning, Betkowski and eight of his former football teammates were put to the test in front of professional scouts during Cal Poly Pro Day at the Upper Sports Complex.
And despite relatively modest career statistics in both football and basketball, it was Betkowski who stood out the most among his peers.
“We’ve just been training so hard for this, and to see success come to fruition for all of us, it’s been very fulfilling,” said the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Betkowski. “I’m very happy with how the day went.”
Former defensive linemen Josh Letuligasenoa and Marcus Paige-Allen, linebacker Chris Santini, running back Kori Garcia, offensive linemen Billy Shipman and Nick Enriquez, and wide receivers Carson McMurtrey and Willie Tucker joined Betkowski in a series of physical tests that included the 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, three-cone drill, long shuttle, vertical jump and broad jump, along with selected position drills.
We’ve just been training so hard for this, and to see success come to fruition for all of us, it’s been very fulfilling.
Matt Betkowski at Cal Poly Pro Day
NFL scouts from the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Redskins were in attendance, along with one scout from the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League.
The group of scouts focused largely on Letuligasenoa during the final position drills, where he went through several repetitions as a linebacker.
The 6-foot-2, 263-pound Letuligasenoa spent most of his college career as a defensive end but could transition to linebacker at the professional level.
A two-time all-Big Sky Conference honoree, Letuligasenoa recorded 66 tackles his senior season, including 9.5 for lost yardage, 3.5 sacks and three passes defended. He developed a reputation as one of the strongest athletes in the program and has been workout partners with Betkowski since they were sophomores.
Both players were quick to credit Holder for helping them develop into professional prospects.
“The relationship I’ve been able to build with him is just unlike any other I’ve had with any coach before,” Letuligasenoa said.
For Betkowski, who was a redshirt freshman on Cal Poly’s 2014 basketball team that won the Big West Conference Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, Monday served as the payoff for months of hard work.
After the 2016 football season ended with a loss to San Diego in the first round of the FCS playoffs, the group of seniors went to Holder to build a workout plan with Pro Day in mind. They spent the next few months training together in the mornings and completing the last of their academic requirements.
Betkowski said he exceeded some of his individual expectations, particularly the 4.65-second 40-yard dash time and the 27 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.
The San Francisco native said he has one class remaining during the spring quarter, and will continue leading strength and conditioning workouts with the men’s basketball team.
That will allow Betkowski to spend at least a few more months around Holder, the man who originally sparked his interest in trying football for the first time in nearly a decade.
“His motivation and his guidance on everything, for me to be a teacher, for me to be a football player, for me to be a man, it’s been very important to me,” Betkowski said. “I wouldn’t be here without him. I wouldn’t have this opportunity without him.”