This is the fifth in an eight-part series previewing the Cal Poly football team’s depth chart.
Who’s back: The offensive line has to be considered one of Cal Poly’s strengths after leading the FCS in rushing two years in a row. Senior Stephen Sippel provides stability up the middle, having started 24 consecutive games at center. Atascadero High graduate Weston Walker returns at right tackle, as does second-team all-conference sophomore guard Nick Enriquez. Billy Shipman is a versatile junior who could play several roles throughout the season. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound Shipman and sophomore Joey Kuperman are competing for the starting spot at right guard.
Who’s new: Sophomore transfer Colin Goebel brings good size to a group that can always use more of it. The 6-4, 280-pound lineman joined the Mustangs in the spring after spending the past two seasons at Iowa, including a redshirt year in 2013. Matthew Fisher is back in the mix after missing all but one game last season because of a leg injury. The junior is listed as the starting left tackle, a position Miles Williams held all 12 games last season. Redshirt freshmen Sam Ogee, Zach Shallcross and Harry Whitson can all challenge for playing time with a strong fall camp.
Head coach Tim Walsh’s take: “We really think by the time we play Sept. 5 we should be 10 or 11 deep. That’s the best we’ve ever been. … Right now I feel pretty comfortable and hopefully we can — knock on wood — stay there. That’s going to be a really deep and solid position.”
Projected depth chart:
LT: Matthew Fisher, Jr., 6-5, 295. Nick Enriquez, Soph., 6-5, 280. Calvin Sandeen, Jr., 6-6, 270.
LG: Nick Enriquez, Soph., 6-5, 280. Billy Shipman II, Jr., 6-3, 275. Sam Ogee, RFr., 6-5, 285.
C: Stephen Sippel, Sr., 6-4, 280. Billy Shipman II, Jr., 6-3, 275. Harry Whitson, RFr., 6-2, 240.
RG: Joey Kuperman, Soph., 6-1, 285. Billy Shipman II, Jr., 6-3, 275. Colin Goebel, Soph., 6-5, 280.
RT: Weston Walker, Sr., 6-4 275. Zach Shallcross, RFr., 6-4, 275. Calvin Sandeen, Jr., 6-6, 270.
What to watch: When addressing the team following Friday’s practice, Walsh said the 2015 Mustangs will be his deepest team in seven years at Cal Poly. That depth starts up front with an experienced offensive line that brings back four starters from last year’s team that rushed for more than 4,200 yards. The health of all-conference players Fisher and Enriquez will be worth following over the next couple of weeks. With many young players competing for spots on the two-deep, Walsh believes the leadership provided by Sippel and Walker will pay dividends come Sept. 5. “We couldn’t have better role models for the other guys,” Walsh said.