Photo courtesy of Elaine Gillum

One of the state’s best prep high jumpers, also the starting quarterback for an undefeated CIF-San Diego Section Division I football champion, has committed to compete in both sports at Cal Poly this year.

Tynan Murray of Poway High School will partake in track and field on a scholarship, and has been invited as a walk-on in football.

“It’s the right fit for me,” Murray told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I really wanted to be able to do both sports, and this is the chance.”

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Murray was named May 5 as a 2008 All-State Grid-Track Honor Roll member by CalHiSports, whose editor, Mark Tennis, wrote Murray “could represent a first in California history” because of his lofty accomplishments in both arenas.

Just the fifth high jumper in SDS history to clear 7 feet, he skied over 7-1 May 17 at its prelims.

That mark – matched May 31 at the state finals by sophomore Harrison Steed of San Juan Capistrano’s JSerra High – was the state’s best this season, and tied with three others for the eighth-best in the country.

“He’s a top- three or-four guy in the country,” said Jack Hoyt, Cal Poly’s jumps coach. “Sometimes high jumpers get a little finicky, but he just goes out there and gets the job done.”

While Hoyt was quick to point out that several Cal Poly football players have excelled in track and field as sprinters or throwers, it’s the first time in his three years with the program recruiting a jumper with such a football pedigree – one undoubtedly shaped by being a nephew of San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

As if his exploits in his two premier sports weren’t enough, Murray, named the San Diego Union-Tribune North Zone Athlete of the Year, even qualified for the SDS diving finals.

“He’s not your prototypical guy,” Hoyt added. “If he can go 7 (feet) for us, he’ll most likely go to nationals next year, and be a top-five guy in the region.”

No slouch in football, Murray completed 51.3 percent of his 150 passes for 1,065 yards and 10 touchdowns with four interceptions en route to All-Palomar League Second Team distinction as a senior.

Additionally, he rushed for 475 yards and a touchdown on 99 carries while leading the Titans to a 12-0 campaign.

In their season-ending, 21-7 win over Rancho Buena Vista at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 7, 2007 to claim the SDS Division I title, Murray rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries and completed 6 of 13 passes for 89 yards and a score.

In a contest nationally televised by ESPNU on Oct. 11, 2007, Murray completed 6 of 12 passes for 56 yards with an interception, but rushed for 84 yards on eight carries as the Titans rallied from a 16-7 fourth-quarter deficit at Torrey Pines to prevail 20-16.

Expected to join football after training camp, Murray, who added eight tackles and a sack for the Titans last season, could find his niche as a defensive back.

If he’s given a shot under center, however, his candidacy could make murkier an already clouded quarterback future at Cal Poly.

While senior Jonathan Dally is entrenched as the starter this season, the backup role appears largely up for grabs in light of the unexpected departure of would-be senior Matt Brennan, who started 10 times in 2006 before backing up Dally last season.

While backup candidates appear to be redshirt sophomore Tony Smith and redshirt freshman Dylan Honaker, each of whom took most of their squads’ snaps April 5 during Cal Poly’s annual spring scrimmage, a more viable option could be one with a route similar to Dally’s.

Among three additions announced May 15, Harlan Prather, a 6-foot, 210-pound transfer from Cabrillo College, completed 51.3 percent of his 306 passes for 2,146 yards and 28 touchdowns at the community college level.

Those numbers almost mirror the ones Dally posted in two seasons at Allan Hancock College, where he completed 56.9 percent of his 262 passes for 2,229 yards and 24 scores.

Five of the Mustangs’ 16 acquisitions announced Feb. 6 to open the regular signing period had prep experience at quarterback, including signal-calling frontrunners Andre Broadous (a 6-foot, 190-pounder from Grant High in Portland, Ore.) and Doug Shumway (a 6-foot, 175-pounder hailing from Agoura High in Westlake Village).

Both, however, in addition to Murray, are expected to redshirt in 2008. Mustangs head coach Rich Ellerson could not be reached for comment Tuesday nor Wednesday.

The Mustangs return to practice Aug. 7, about three weeks before their season opener Aug. 30 at San Diego State.

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