Four months after winning the 2005 Buck Buchanan Award for being the nation’s best defensive player in Division I-AA college football, the accolades for Cal Poly senior defensive end Chris Gocong are not slowing down. Some football experts have predicted Gocong to be selected as high as the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, which will be held this Saturday and Sunday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
If Gocong were to go that high, he would be Cal Poly’s highest draft pick ever. Former Cal Poly linebacker and 2004 Buck Buchanan Award winner Jordan Beck was selected in the third round (90th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2005 NFL Draft, the highest Mustang draftee to date.
Gocong recorded 23.5 sacks last season, first in the nation and a Cal Poly season record, to finish with 42 career sacks (second all-time). He was also second in the nation in tackles for lost yardage with 31, while leading Cal Poly to the quarterfinals of the Division I-AA playoffs for the school’s first time.
Gocong’s honors this season include being the Great West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a Division I-AA All-American and a member of the East-West Shrine Game (in which he recorded a sack and three tackles).
A very athletic 6-foot 2-inch, 263-pound Gocong participated in the NFL Combine in February at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis and impressed several scouts.
“It’s hard to tell who’s looking at me,” he said, and though he has met with the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, he could realistically be drafted by any one of 32 teams.
But even with all the scouts that buzzed around him during his time in Indianapolis, Gocong noted the presence of his fellow athletes at the combine.
“It was cool just to be around the best, with Bush and Leinart – to be put in the same category as them,” he said.
As for the pressures of performing at the NFL Combine, meeting with professional teams and responding to the media, Gocong has remained poised, partially because of the rigorous schedule that comes with preparing for the draft and also because of the focus required in his final quarter of earning a biomedical engineering degree.
“I’ve been pretty busy so I haven’t had much time to think about (the draft),” he said.
He did mention that just this week he began to realize how soon the draft would be taking place and what it meant to him, however.
“It’s every football player’s dream to be in the NFL Draft,” Gocong said. “I’m really excited.”
The 2006 NFL Draft will be televised nationally on ESPN, with the first three rounds from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and the last four rounds from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.