Elias Stokes’ junior season is over before it ever really got going.
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh confirmed after practice Wednesday morning that Stokes broke his left arm during the third quarter of the Mustangs’ home-opening loss against Northern Iowa last Saturday.
The fourth-year junior running back caught a 7-yard pass for a first down and stayed down on the field for several moments after being tackled. Stokes was helped to the sideline by team trainers and carted out of Alex G. Spanos Stadium a few minutes later.
Walsh said the former Paso Robles High standout had surgery Sunday and will face a three-month recovery.
“He’s had a tough time,” Walsh said. “It’s unfortunate because he’s had one injury after another, and he was just getting to the point where he’s going to play a lot.”
Stokes, the 2010 Tribune County Player of the Year, used his redshirt in 2012 and did not play in the spring game that year because of a torn labrum in his hip that required surgery.
He did not play in any games as a redshirt freshman in 2013 while continuing rehabilitation from the hip injury and missed the 2014 spring game as well.
When kicker Stephen Pyle was injured during the second game last season, Stokes became the Mustangs’ primary punter and played in all 12 games as a sophomore.
A non-contact knee injury suffered last spring kept Stokes out of the spring game for the third consecutive year, but he was able to recover in time to make it into the starting lineup for Cal Poly’s season opener against Montana.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Stokes finished his season with one carry for 5 yards and the 7-yard reception against the Panthers.
Moving forward, redshirt freshmen Malcolm Davis and Alex Suchesk will be leaned on to back up starters Kori Garcia and DJ Peluso.
Davis, a 5-9, 170-pound Chicago native, got his first career carry against UNI, breaking around the left side for a 19-yard gain late in the first half. Davis was selected as the Mustangs’ scout team player of the year in 2014.
Suchesk, a 5-10, 185-pound running back from Ladera Ranch, has run the ball 10 times for 71 yards this season, an average of 7.1 yards per carry.
“They better be ready for prime time because they’ve got to play,” Walsh said. “I think they’re both good players. It was good that we got them in the game (against Northern Iowa) to get a feel for it.
“But they’ll play substantial downs this week.”