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With four seasons of absolute havoc under his belt, Cal Poly defensive-end Chris Gocong is looking to take his game to the next level of competition after being invited to the 2006 NFL scouting combine.

Gocong, ranked No. 19 in the pre-draft defensive-end rankings according to Scott Wright’s NFL Draft Countdown, will attend the NFL combine as an invitee.

“It is a great honor, but still football is a team sport and I could not have done it without everyone behind me,” Gocong said.

Gocong is the second Mustang football player to perform at the combine in consecutive years following former teammate Jordan Beck, now of the Atlanta Falcons.

“I think there is actually a little less pressure, it shows that a Division I-AA guy can go all the way,” Gocong said of his former teammate.

In 2004, Gocong was runner-up to Beck in the Buck Buchanan award voting for the best defensive player in Division I-AA. An award which he returned to win in 2005 after compiling a nation’s best in sacks per game (1.81), second in tackles for lost yardage (2.35 per game) and 23rd in forced fumbles (.31), 98 total tackles (46 solo), and a Cal Poly-record 23.5 sacks and 31.0 tackles for lost yardage.

Along with the Buck Buchanan Award, Gocong also racked up a slew of other awards this season. He was selected a first team All-American by every major poll, including the Coaches’ Association, and Gocong was also invited to play in a pair of all-star games. He was selected to play in the Las Vegas All-American Classic, but turned down the invitation.

However, Gocong will participate in this weekend’s East-West Shrine Game. The East-West Shrine Game is in its 81st year and features some of the best college seniors from across the nation.

“Not even up to a year and a half ago, I dreamed about it,” Gocong said. “It’s nice to say that maybe it could come true.”

During the combine, Gocong hopes to run a 4.6 second, 40-yard-dash and hit 40 repetitions at 225 pounds on the bench press. Two goals he hopes to reach by following a strict training regimen with Chris Holder, the Mustangs’ strength coach, Gocong said.

The NFL combine will give Gocong the opportunity to impress NFL scouts and coaches alike in an effort to be noticed on a whole new level. At the combine he will be competing with the best college football players from around the country.

“It is exciting, but at the same time it is kind of nerve racking,” Gocong said, but after leading the Mustangs to a 9-4 record, a second straight Great West Football Conference championship and a first ever NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearance, it would appear that he is no stranger to pressure.

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