Credit: Maddie Harrell | Mustang News, 2022

Cal Poly football has had a busy offseason.

After the departure of former head coach Beau Baldwin to Arizona State, the program promoted associate head coach Paul Wulff to the position just four days later on Dec. 6. 

Wulff has coached at the collegiate level for 28 years and was most recently the head coach at Washington State from 2008-11. Since then, he’s been around and been able to learn from professional-level coaches like Vic Fangio and Jim Harbaugh.

“I just feel like I was very young to be a head coach when I was… I wasn’t really ready, to be honest with you,” Wulff said. “I learned on the run. But it’s a lot different now, trust me.”

In the weeks following Wulff’s hiring, the team announced a slew of recruits and transfers, highlighted by former three-star linemen and San Luis Obispo high school alumni Thomas Cole from UCLA and former four-star linebacker from the University of Utah Ethan Calvert.

“Building trust takes time and implementing schematics and terminology takes time,” Wulff said. “We’ve done a great job the last couple of years of building this team, and we’re on a great path.”

However, the news kept coming. Nearly a month-and-a-half after Wulff’s hiring, the program brought in Sheldon Cross from Kennedy Catholic High School in Washington to be the team’s offensive coordinator.

Cross said that he reached out to Wulff immediately after he was hired as the head coach in an attempt to join him on the Central Coast.

“I think Cal Poly is one of the most exciting football programs right now,” Cross said. “I’ve known Coach Wulff for a long time. I trust him. I know what type of head coach he is and I know what type of program he wants to have.”

As the team brought Cross on board, one of Cross’ former players from Kennedy Catholic, former five-star quarterback Sam Huard announced he would enter the transfer portal and look to move on from the University of Washington.

“It’s by far the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life, just because of how much this place means to me,” Huard told the Seattle Times.

Huard’s father and uncle both were record-holding quarterbacks for the Huskies. 

Twelve days later, the former No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 23 overall prospect in his high school class signed a financial aid agreement to make Cal Poly the next stop in his career.

Huard is believed to be the first five-star signing in Cal Poly football’s history. 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to know Sam his whole life,” Cross said. “When…he and his family came and visited Cal Poly, they saw what we see… It’s one of the most beautiful places and one of the best up-and-coming programs in the United States. He’s excited to join this program and come to this university.”

Where the program stands heading to next season

With one of the strongest recruiting classes in recent years, the Mustangs will look to make an improvement in the win column after winning just four games over the last two seasons.

Part of that improvement comes with the development of the younger members of the team from last season.

“We’ve got quality young men,” Wulff said. “They just have to grow up and develop, and once we get these guys the experience with the raw talent we feel like we can do great things here.”

While the team added a plethora of veteran transfers that will help immediately with this younger team, the Mustangs added even more youth from the high school ranks as well.

“We feel like if you do it through the high school ranks, you build such a quality group of core guys,” Wulff said. “They’re the ones that are going to always lead the program… for the most part, the team and the school are going to build this base off of high school young men.”

The Mustang incoming freshman class includes four three-stars in receiver Edward Schultz, defensive back Chris Snyder Jr. and receiver Delano Franklin and running back Aiden Ramos.

This combination of transfers and newcomers has given the Mustangs the third-best recruiting class in all of FCS football.

“We have an elite academic institution,” Wulff said. “We need to have an elite football program and one that can compete for championships, just like academically we compete on the highest levels across the United States. We want to do that athletically as well, and I think if we can get that going in the same direction, I think we got something really special.”

Cal Poly Football will open up its Spring Camp on Tuesday, April 4.