Jordan Beck, Chris Gocong, Kyle Shotwell and Ramses Barden dominated the Great West Conference during their playing days for the Cal Poly football team.
Those four, and six other former Mustangs were named Wednesday to the All-Time Great West Football Team.
The team was voted on mostly by current and former sports information directors at the Great West schools along with members of the Great West Conference office. The football portion of the conference began in 2004 and ended this year with all of its teams going into different leagues for next season, including Cal Poly, which will join the Big Sky Conference for football only in 2012. Over the course of the eight seasons the conference existed for football, it included Cal Poly, UC Davis, Southern Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Northern Colorado.
Along with the former Cal Poly players on the team, former Cal Poly coach Rich Ellerson was named the coach on the all-time team. Ellerson was the Great West Coach of the Year in 2004, 2005 and 2008 with the Mustangs winning the conference each of those years. Cal Poly tied North Dakota for the conference title this past season and its four conference crowns are the most in Great West history.
Leading the Mustangs on the all-time team are Beck, Gocong and Shotwell, the Buck Buchanan Award winners in 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively, as the top defensive player at what was then the Division I-AA level. Beck and Shotwell were linebackers at Cal Poly, and Gocong was a defensive end before moving to linebacker in the NFL. Gocong was also an All-American in 2004 and 2005, as was Shotwell in 2006.
Beck led the Great West with 135 tackles in 2004, Gocong led the nation with 23 1-2 sacks in 2005 and Shotwell led the nation with 21 tackles for loss in 2006.
Other Cal Poly defensive players on the Great West all-time team are defensive backs Asa Jackson, Courtney Brown and Kenny Chicoine. Jackson, who completed his career this past season, is the only defensive player in Great West history named to the first team all four years of his career. Chicoine led the Great West with seven interceptions in 2004 and holds the Cal Poly career record with 20. Brown was a two-time first team all-Great West defender and had 10 career interceptions.
Named to the Great West all-time offensive team from Cal Poly were Barden, running backs James Nobles and Jake Romanelli and center Stephen Field.
Barden, a standout wide receiver now playing with the NFL’s New York Giants, was the Great West Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 (shared with North Dakota quarterback Steve Walker) and 2008. Barden was a four-year starter for the Mustangs and a two-time All-American who set numerous school and NCAA records while at Cal Poly. In just his junior and senior seasons alone, Barden had 134 receptions for 2,724 yards and 36 touchdowns. He finished his career with 206 receptions for 4,203 yards and 50 touchdowns, all school records.
Noble and Field played the same four years as Barden and all three were four-year starters, leading Cal Poly to playoff berths in 2005 and 2008. Noble shared Great West Offensive Player of the Year honors as a freshman in 2005 when he rushed for 1,578 yards, a single-season Cal Poly record. Noble also owns single-season and career rushing touchdown records at Cal Poly.
Field, an Arroyo Grande High graduate, was a four-time first team all-conference selection and an All-American in 2006 and 2008. He paved the way for an offense that rewrote the Cal Poly record book.
Romanelli, a Templeton High graduate, just completed his Cal Poly career. He was a two-time first team all-conference selection and ran for 1,015 yards in his senior season.
Among the other players on the team are former Northern Colorado wide receiver Vincent Jackson, now a standout with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, and former North Dakota State linebacker Joe Mays, who now plays for the NFL’s Denver Broncos.