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For the second straight year, a Cal Poly football player has been selected in the third round of the National Football League Draft.

Senior defensive end Chris Gocong became Cal Poly’s highest draft choice ever on Saturday afternoon, chosen in the third round with the 71st pick overall by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Former Mustang linebacker Jordan Beck was drafted in the third round, the 90th selection overall, by the Atlanta Falcons a year ago.

Gocong, who like Beck earned the Buck Buchanan Award as the nation’s Division I-AA defensive player of the year, was projected as high as the second round by draft prognosticators, including ESPN columnist Mel Kiper Jr.

The National Football League Draft was held Saturday and continued Sunday in New York, with the first three rounds on Saturday and the final four rounds on Sunday.

Gocong had been courted by several NFL teams and, since the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in late February, had been flown to Cincinnati and New York (Jets) and was scouted by many other teams.

Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. covered the NFL Combine and wrote, “One of the great stories of this draft process has been that of Cal Poly’s Chris Gocong. A versatile defensive lineman who played end and tackle in college, Gocong led the Division I-AA ranks in sacks as a senior in 2005.

“Gocong obviously will be forced to make a huge transition in the NFL,” McShay continued. “He does not have the size to play inside, but he did show the speed in the 40-yard dash (4.7) and overall athleticism in the vertical jump (38 inches), broad jump (10-2), three-cone drill (7.03), short shuttle (4.08) and long shuttle (11.35) to be a defensive end/outside linebacker type. If nothing else, Gocong should prove to be an effective situational edge rusher in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.”

Gocong was Cal Poly’s third football player to participate in the East-West Shrine Game, following Beck in 2005 and Stan Sheriff in 1954.

A 6-3, 265-pound Carpinteria High School graduate, Gocong was named to the prestigious AFCA Division I-AA Coaches’ All-America Team, the Associated Press Division I-AA All-America Team, the Sports Network’s All-America first team and the Walter Camp Football Foundation Division I-AA All-America Team. He also was I-AA.org’s defensive player of the year.

He was named Great West Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year in November and recorded 42.0 career sacks, 1.5 sacks shy of the career mark set by Tom Carey (1985-88).

Last season, Gocong finished first in the nation in sacks per game (1.81), second in tackles for lost yardage (2.35 per game) and 23rd in forced fumbles (.31). He recorded 98 total tackles (46 solo), including a school-record 23.5 sacks and 31.0 tackles for lost yardage, leading the Mustangs to a 9-4 record, a second straight Great West Football Conference championship and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.

He recovered a Montana State fumble in the end zone on Sept. 17 for his only career Mustang touchdown.

Gocong finished the 2004 regular season as the nation’s sacks leader in Division I-AA with 17.5 (1.59 sacks per contest) and was No. 2 in tackles for lost yardage with 21.5 (1.95 a game). Gocong recorded 71 total tackles as a junior and also notched one interception (Humboldt State), one punt block (North Dakota State) and two forced fumbles.

Gocong was runner-up to Beck for the 2004 Buck Buchanan Award and was named Defensive Lineman of the Year for 2005 by the online service Football Gazette published by Don Hansen.

Two former Mustangs were drafted in the fourth round – wide receiver Jimmy Childs by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1978 and wide receiver Robbie Martin by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1981. Wide receiver Cecil Turner was a fifth-round selection of the Chicago Bears in 1968.

Before Beck was picked by Atlanta a year ago, the last Cal Poly football player to be drafted by an NFL club was quarterback Seth Burford, selected by the San Diego Chargers in the seventh round of the 2002 draft.

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