Jordan Hines is coming to Cal Poly to play football, but the Chula Vista Eastlake High standout might better be known for the immaculate conception of his track and field career.
Hines — along with Eastlake teammate Chris Fletcher, the son of the former San Diego Chargers defensive back by the same name — told The Tribune on Tuesday that both planned to sign national letters of intent to play football for the Mustangs today after giving the Cal Poly coaching staff verbal commitments early last month.
Fletcher was a 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back in Eastlake’s Wing-T attack but comes to San Luis Obispo intending to play cornerback. Hines, a 6-3, 185-pound receiver, also played quarterback and safety at Eastlake, which had an undefeated regular season before bowing out in the semifinals of the CIF-San Diego Section Division I semifinals.
But it was Hines’s sudden rise in the triple jump last season, and his ensuing decision to choose football at Cal Poly over offers to compete in track and field at Cal or Iowa, that’s truly remarkable.
In his first season using track as cross training for football, Hines was a decent hurdler and hoped his long jump marks would get him past the Metro Mesa League finals.
It wasn’t until the last league dual of the regular season that injuries caused coaches to insert Hines into the triple jump for the sake of scoring team points.
“I just never tried it,” Hines said. “I first started long jump that year. We needed a long-jumper, and triple jump is kind of harder to learn. “But it kind of came pretty naturally.”
Hines leapt more than 44 feet in his first triple jump competition, and over the course of the next five weeks, improved his marks through each step of the postseason.
By the state finals, the jumper who’d been practicing the triple jump for little more than a month placed fifth overall with a mark of 48 feet, 10 inches.
“It’s a phenomenal story, and I’m proud of him because now he has that big fix,” Fletcher said. “When he comes to track, I know he’s ready to hit that triple jump. I know he’s going to break 50.”
Said Hines: “I plan on doing it this year and when I go to Cal Poly. My goal is to win state this year. I think if I can get a whole year of training, I can definitely do better than I can in five weeks of training.”
Though Mustangs track and field coordinator Mark Conover might be happy with Hines’s commitment to track, he’ll be making his scholarship money on the football field.
Hines played quarterback his first two prep seasons, moved to receiver as a junior and split time between quarterback and receiver last season. He finished with 578 passing yards and six touchdowns and 304 yards receiving with four touchdown catches.
He’ll enter Cal Poly at receiver, where the Mustangs lost their entire two-deep depth chart — four seniors — to graduation.
Because of Cal Poly’s lack of depth, Hines could contribute right away, but having less experience, he also has plenty of room to grow.
“He’s going to be a go-to guy in three or four years,” Eastlake coach John McFadden said. “People are going to go ‘wow.’ The Notre Dames and Oregons are going to go, ‘Where was this kid in high school.’ ”
Fletcher, who had a football offer from Montana State and also received attention from San Diego State, had more than 600 yards rushing and 1,055 yards from scrimmage with 10 total touchdowns on offense last season.
But with his experience base and bloodline trending toward defense, Fletcher decided he wanted to give out hits rather than take them.
His father had 13 interceptions as a defensive back with the Chargers from 1970 to 1976 and earned a reputation as a hard hitter.
“He’s just a shutdown corner,” McFadden said of the younger Fletcher. “You put him on somebody, they’re not going to get off the ball very easily.”
The younger Fletcher did have to sell his dad on Cal Poly. The elder Fletcher, a modest man who let his son find out about his NFL past completely on his own, initially wanted his only boy to play at the highest level.
But after visiting the campus and becoming comfortable with the coaching staff, both Fletchers came to the same conclusion.
“I feel like I can bring a big benefit to this school and quickly,” the younger Fletcher said. “I feel like my recruiting class and the recruits that were there on our visit, we’re going to do big things.”