Cal Poly

College Football: Cal Poly kicker could miss time for Mustangs

UPDATE: James Langford entered a plea of no contest to reckless driving on May 5, 2011. Drunken driving charges he faced were dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

He received a sentence of 18 months' informal probation, which ends Nov. 5, 2012. And he was required to complete an educational program for reckless drivers.

Original story: James Langford will suit up along with the rest of the Cal Poly football team for the start of spring practice early Monday morning.

After a recent arrest, however, the status of the Cal Poly football team’s sophomore kicker is in doubt for September’s season opener at San Diego State and possibly beyond.

After being pulled over in an early morning traffic stop in San Luis Obispo in February, the 19-year-old was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Cal Poly football coach Tim Walsh said he would await the conclusion of Langford’s court case, which is set to begin next month, before discussing possible internal punishment.

“I’m going to let the court make its decision,” said Walsh, who has talked with Langford privately, “and I’m going to make my decision based on that and do what’s best.

“Regardless of what the court says, there’s going to be some punishment.”

Langford was arrested at 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 27, San Luis Obispo police said, at the intersection of California Boulevard and Hathaway Avenue — just blocks away from the Cal Poly campus.

There was no accident or injury, and Lt. Keith Storton did not release further details, saying the investigation was still ongoing. Official charges have yet to be filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court by the District Attorney’s Office.

Langford said he was pulled over for driving 47 mph in a 35 zone. He said he passed field sobriety tests but also underwent a blood test because he is under the legal drinking age.

Langford said he expects to learn the results of the blood test at a hearing scheduled for April 12.

“I recognize it was a mistake,” Langford said. “I know I did wrong, and I’m going to learn from it. There’s nothing I can do now but just accept the consequences and get past it.”

If a DUI conviction is reached, potential legal punishments for first-time offenders include 48 hours of jail time, a six-month license suspension, DUI school, fines and probation.

Offenders can make plea deals to reduce charges to alcohol-related reckless driving, a misdemeanor offense that does not mandate a license suspension or alcohol education classes.

Even if charges are not dropped, the only thing likely to keep Langford away from the field would be a suspension by Walsh or the university.

For now, Langford will participate in practices.

“I’m probably more inclined to suspend a guy for a game rather than a spring practice,” Walsh said.

The former Pleasanton Foothill High standout mainly handled kickoff duties for the Mustangs last fall, but with senior kick Jake West’s eligibility up, Langford was set to inherit all place kicking duties.

Langford averaged 65.4 yards per kickoff in 2010, including nine touchbacks. He was perfect on 16 PATs and 1 for 5 on field goal attempts, making a 21-yarder and missing two from 50 yards or more.

A CIF-North Coast Section scholar-athlete that had a 3.2 grade-point average, Langford made 12 field goals his senior season at Foothill, including four of 40 or more yards.

A five-star recruit who was ranked in the top 25 in his class by the foremost kicking recruiting service, Langford hit a career-long 57-yard field goal in a high school all-star game prior to signing with Cal Poly.

The Mustangs have only one other kicker on their roster, according to a team spokesman.

A walk-on trying out this spring, Kyle Anderson will be a redshirt freshman next season. He made two field goals and 22 PATs for San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in 2009 for the 2-8 Fightin’ Irish.

Redshirt freshman slotback Chris Nicholls enters the spring as the No. 1 punter.

Cal Poly spring practice will begin Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. at the Upper Sports Complex.