Spring camp is in full swing for Cal Poly Football, and this Saturday’s Spring Game gives the team an opportunity to show off the moves they’ve made this offseason and the steps they’ve made towards improvement.
The game will take place Saturday, April 29 at 11 p.m. at Mustang Memorial Field.
Last season was yet another disappointing one for Cal Poly after accumulating only one conference win, but in an offseason with a lot of turnover, it has given fans something to look forward to.
One of the first dominoes to fall this offseason was the departure of head coach Beau Baldwin after he was hired as the new offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Shortly after, an in-house hire was made to replace Baldwin in associate head coach Paul Wulff.
Many other hires were made, including new offensive coordinator Sheldon Cross which then resulted in his former high school player and five-star quarterback Sam Huard transferring to Cal Poly from the University of Washington.
This along with a great recruiting class and college transfers resulted in the third-best recruiting class in FCS football and some excitement in the air for the potential of the football program.
“We want to have a program that’s in a position to compete for championships and provide a great product on the field for the fans, alumni and students,” Wulff said.
While all these new moves look good on paper, fans can only get so excited without actually seeing what this team can do on the field.
Building team chemistry along with improving and evaluating players all starts in spring camp and is something Wulff is emphasizing.
“The biggest thing is going through the basic fundamentals and trying to build a system around those players that are the most ready to perform,” Wulff said. “It takes practice, time and evaluation of film.”
The Mustangs now have some positional depth they haven’t had in years past, which leads to the opportunity for position battles in camp.
Obviously, the coaches won’t make final roster decisions in the spring, but players have made it more difficult than expected for them to narrow it down.
A couple of players that have stood out to coach Wulff so far include Huard and redshirt freshman quarterback Bo Kelly.
“Sam [Huard] has done some really good things along with Bo Kelly,” Wulff said. “Those two guys have taken a lot of the reps, so we’ve watched those guys grow.”
Other quarterbacks on the roster, like redshirt sophomore quarterback Jaden Jones, have yet to come back from injury and are doing solo work during practices.
Some other position groups to keep an eye on are the wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker positions.
“It’s going to be a tremendous amount of competition and we’re all anxious to watch those guys continue to grow,” Wulff said.
Some players to highlight from the receiving group are redshirt junior Zedakiah Centers, who was third on the team in receiving yards last season, sophomore Logan Booher, who is listed as the offense’s starting X receiver, and redshirt junior Giancarlo Woods.
As for the secondary, redshirt junior cornerback Xavier Oliphant is listed as the top corner on the spring depth chart while junior safety Dominick McCormack is listed as the top safety on the depth chart.
Meanwhile, sophomore safety Brian Dukes, who was among the team leaders in tackles a season ago, is a name to watch and redshirt junior safety Jeremy Justice is high on the spring depth chart.
The linebacker position is a group that has the potential to be the strength of the defense, according to coach Wulff.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Je’kob Jones and redshirt junior linebacker David Meyer was the breakout duo of last season after Meyer led the team in every defensive category except interceptions, with Jones not too far behind.
Along with those two, sophomore linebacker Ethan Calvert, a transfer from Utah and former four-star recruit, is also expected to elevate the current linebacker core.
“The linebacker position is a position that has the potential to be very strong for our team,” Wulff said.
As for the spring game itself, Wulff says it’ll be the first time in a few years Cal Poly will have a true spring game and it’s something he’s looking forward to.
“I think we’re really strong in certain areas where we can run a scrimmage format that will allow us to run some plays,” Wulff said. “And we’ll have the opportunity to run some special teams in there too.”
Although the coaching staff has some tough evaluations to make, this spring game will give the coaching staff a better idea about the team they have on their hands and Wulff is a firm believer that the players will make those decisions themselves.
“We’ll let them sort it out,” Wulff said. “At the end of the day, the players are going to decide who gets to play based on how they perform.”
All these new and returning players will have a chance to show what they’re made of in the Spring Game this weekend.