Credit: Courtesy | Cal Poly Athletics, 2022

Nick Bandanza is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News sports reporter. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News. 

Cal Poly’s football team just landed a former five-star quarterback in transfer Sam Huard, and finally, the fateful fans of the Mustangs can celebrate that something special is happening. 

Being a Cal Poly football fan over the last four seasons has been painful. The team has had a combined record of 7-29, with only four conference wins and a point differential of negative 685 points. 

Disappointing Saturdays turned into disappointing Falls as the program withered to the lowest echelon of FCS football.

However, the program has been moving positively over the last couple of months, and we Mustang fans should begin to celebrate the level of players coming to our school. 

First, Beau Baldwin stepped down as head football coach on Dec. 2 to become Arizona State University’s offensive coordinator, which, thank the lord, opened the door for Paul Wulff to step in as the newest Mustang head coach.

A graduate assistant by the name of Sheldon Cross accompanied Wulff during his stint at Washington State. This relationship led to the football program’s second great move, hiring Cross as the offensive coordinator. 

Cross has a resume filled with great coaching performances at every program he has landed at, among various levels of football. He’s predominantly known as one of Washington’s greatest high school football coaches, bringing Kennedy Catholic High School to the pinnacle of high school football.

And guess who the stud quarterback was that orchestrated Cross’s offense at Kennedy Catholic? That would be Sam Huard.

The 17th-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2020, Huard has spent the last two seasons at the University of Washington before announcing on Monday, Jan. 30, that he would be bringing his talents to the central coast. 

A five-star All-American in high school doesn’t transfer to an FCS school every day! In fact, this is Cal Poly’s first-ever five-star recruit in the program’s history. With all due respect to Spencer Brasch, Huard is Spencer Brasch on steroids as a prospect.

The signing of Huard opened up the floodgates, as three more FBS transfers signed their letters of intent to play for the Mustangs. 

To quote the newly-appointed Coach Prime at Colorado, “I’m bringing my luggage, and it’s Louis.”

Okay, they might not be Louis Vuitton, but they are at least Tommy Hilfiger, and that’s something we need.

Tight end Carlton Brown transferred from the University of Nevada just days after Huard announced his signing. The 6-6, 227-pound redshirt sophomore has three years of eligibility remaining. 

Huard also influenced his high school teammate and Washington State University wide receiver, Reed Shumpert, to accompany him in SLO. Shumpert also has three years of eligibility left.

These transfers did not choose Cal Poly by accident or chance; they realized the impact a quarterback like Huard could bring to a program and wanted to be a part of something potentially special. 

The third transfer the Mustangs landed was a former four-star linebacker, Ethan Calvert. Truthfully, this pickup would have been leading this story if it was not for Huard, as the Mustangs haven’t sniffed a four-star recruit since the days of coach Rich Ellerson.

Calvert spent the previous two seasons at the University of Utah as a rotational linebacker for one of the best defenses in all of college football. He has three years left to play, just like the other transfers.

Optimism should be coursing through our veins. For too many years now, the residents of San Luis Obispo have stood by and watched a football team that is not competitive against the middle-tier FCS schools of the world. 

In fact, this has been a fanbase that heard more rumors about cutting the program than elevating it. 

Therefore, Cal Poly fans, we should celebrate this as if the ‘Stangs just won 10 games. We should walk into work and school tomorrow with our heads held high and our chests sticking out because when a program hasn’t brought a winning feeling in over 10 years, you take a recruiting cycle like this and run with it.

Sure, Coach Wulff is unproven, and I hear the doubters loud and clear when they voice their opposition to the hire because of his involvement with Baldwin the last couple of seasons. But look at what he has been able to do in two months.

He has brought hope — hope that, come September, we will witness Sam Huard and the Mustangs begin to resemble a championship team.