Paso Robles High wide receiver Elias Stokes had the opportunity to play many different positions in his final season with the Bearcats.
In college, he’ll play another.
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said Stokes will likely play running back with the Mustangs, highlighting a signing day Wednesday where Cal Poly had a total of 21 players sign National Letters of Intent to play football.
“I am very comfortable with it,” Stokes said. “If the coaches feel that that’s the best position to go to, then I am comfortable with that. I talked with (running backs coach Aristotle) Thompson and he was focused on making me an overall football player. I trust him.”
Along with Stokes, Cal Poly will bring in a total of 11 offensive and defensive lineman, and a quarterback, Tanner Trosin, who became the first California high school quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards, finishing with 5,185 yards and 49 touchdowns as a senior at Folsom High.
“When you look at the class top to bottom, it’s one of the strongest classes that we’ve put together,” said Thompson, who is also Cal Poly’s recruiting coordinator. “This is probably the deepest class we’ve signed since we’ve been here with coach Walsh at Cal Poly.”
Stokes is a key part of that class. He was arguably the San Luis Obispo County’s best college prospect at wideout in 2010. He finished with a total of 28 touchdowns, earning PAC 7 MVP and was named The Tribune’s County Player of the Year. He finished with 61 catches for 1,001 yards and 17 TDs, and 246 yards rushing with seven scores on 35 carries as a junior.
“He is kind of the guy that is a dual threat at that particular position,” Walsh said. “Every time we see him with the ball in his hands, he has been extremely competitive. So we want to play him at a position where we get the ball in his hands.”
Likely getting him the ball in future will be Trosin, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound quarterback who was named Max Preps State Division II Player of the Year in his first year playing the position. He completed 68 percent of his passes, throwing for 49 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also got it done on the ground, rushing for 1,179 yards on 215 carries to break the state record for total offense with 6,364 yards. He was the Sacramento Bee’s Offensive Player of the Year.
His success made him one of the best quarterbacks in the nation statistically, ranking third in passer rating and second in total offense. Not to mention, his 69 total touchdowns rank second in state history.
And while those numbers make him arguably the best passing threat Cal Poly’s ever recruited under Walsh, the fourth-year coach remains adamant that no shifts out of the Mustangs’ triple-option offense are coming.
“He is going to say I want to throw the ball 50 times,” Walsh said. “But you have to remember Tanner Trosin was a wide receiver and a safety. He is an athlete, so it’s not like we didn’t recruit a guy that can run. He can run with the football, and he wants to run with the football.”
Coming with him to Cal Poly is high school teammate Cason McMurtrey, who at wide receiver caught 51 passes for 987 yards in his senior year at Folsom. Another key wide receiver figures to be 6-3 Keishawn Rowe, who caught 42 passes for 699 yards and six touchdowns as a senior at Salesian High.
The Mustangs also addressed the issue of pass rush in this year’s recruiting class, after losing 11 senior defensive linemen at the end of last season. Jake Irwin, a transfer from Wisconsin, spearheads the group of eight total defensive lineman, all of whom Walsh expects to make an immediate impact.
“Being upfront and honest, yeah he has had a couple of issues,” Walsh said of Irwin, who was dismissed from the Wisconsin football team following two counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of battery in an alleged altercation Sept. 1. “Jake is a guy that I think really does fit in, I think he needs to move on in his life and we are going to give him the opportunity to do that.”
The Mustangs also signed defensive lineman Colin Dzubnar (Mission Viejo High), Marvin Abou (Scripps Ranch High), Josh Letuligasenoa (Elk Grove High), Omar Omilabu (Laney College), Jason Patterson, (Santana High), Barrett Wangara (College of San Mateo) and Billy Shipman (Valencia High). Dzubnar is the younger brother of Cal Poly linebacker Nick Dzubnar and Letuligasenoa is the younger brother of Cal Poly offensive lineman Lefi Letuligasenoa.