This is the second in an eight-part series breaking down the Cal Poly football team’s depth chart.
Who’s back: This is expected to be one of the more exciting groups to watch throughout fall camp, even for a team that ran the ball nearly 64 times per game last season. Seniors Roland Jackson Jr. and Jordan Hines are returning starters who each averaged more than 25 yards per reception in 2014. Fifth-year senior Willie Tucker is back in the fold after missing most of the past two seasons because of injuries. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver hasn’t played since Oct. 5, 2013 — a 24-10 loss to Yale. Assuming Tucker plays in the season opener at Montana, it will have been 23 months to the day between games played.
Who’s new: Purdue transfer Alex Egurbide is an interesting addition. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound redshirt freshman was admitted late and watched Monday’s practice from the sideline before joining his teammates Tuesday. Coach Tim Walsh said he’s “anxious to see” what true freshmen J.J. Koski and Jake Smeltzer can do over the next month, though if neither player is able to break into the top four, a redshirt season seems likely. Koski provided one of the highlights during Monday’s practice when he caught a long pass down the sideline from fellow true freshman Khaleel Jenkins during a 7-on-7 period.
Walsh’s take: “Would we like to be able to throw it more? Sure. … We’re going to do some things with three wide receivers in the game at certain times, which will be new for us. We’re looking forward to seeing what that element brings to the passing game.”
Projected depth chart:
WR: Jordan Hines, Sr., 6-2, 195. Willie Tucker, Sr., 6-3, 200. Alex Egurbide, RFr., 6-6, 215. J.J. Koski, Fr., 6-1, 185. Jake Smeltzer, Fr., 6-3, 194.
WR: Roland Jackson Jr., Sr., 5-10, 150. Carson McMurtrey, Jr., 6-4, 198. Kory Fox, RFr., 6-0, 170. Victor Beglistoff, RFr., 6-2, 175. TE: Reagan Enger, Soph., 6-3, 218. Max Betkowski, Jr., 6-3, 224.
What to watch: If Tucker is in fact healthy, he could certainly be the “X” factor among the wide receivers. With his size and athleticism, Tucker gives quarterback Chris Brown another downfield option. “He’s shown some signs that he’s getting back,” Walsh said. “But he’s going to be a work in progress. He hasn’t played a football game in (23) months.” Jackson’s speed is undeniable and he looks like a big-play threat, along with proven veterans Hines and Carson McMurtrey. As Jackson pointed out following Monday’s practice, the sooner young players buy into blocking for the run game, the sooner they’ll be able to contribute.
Previous depth charts: Defensive backs