SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly has signed a total of 11 high school football players and one community college transfer to the National Letter of Intent. The announcement was made Wednesday by fifth-year Mustang football coach Tim Walsh and Cal Poly director of athletics Don Oberhelman at MoTav in downtown San Luis Obispo.
The class of recruits includes four linemen, two linebackers, one defensive back, two running backs, a pair of wide receivers and one player who was both a running back and defensive back in high school.
"We went into this year of recruiting with the idea that we can really recruit for the future, even though it's not a large class," said Walsh. "We have 17 returning starters, so we did what we needed to do to secure our future with some outstanding players who can compete for us over the next five years, including some who could play right away.
"We also think that, this being our fifth year of recruiting at Cal Poly, we have things back in balance with regard to the number of guys on scholarship at each position," Walsh added. "The exception is still the number of players in each class level. That's a project we're still working on, balancing the classes."
The Regular Signing Period opened today and ends April 1.
Cal Poly football, presented by French Hospital Medical Center, posted a 9-3 mark in 2012, its ninth winning season in the last 10 years, and claimed a share of the Big Sky Conference championship in its first season in the league.
The Mustangs, conference champions five times in the last nine years, including four titles in the eight-year existence of the Great West Conference, earned their third NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth in the last eight years, falling 18-16 to eventual national runner-up Sam Houston State.
Cal Poly finished the season 11th in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 12 in the Sports Network media poll.
The signees (listed alphabetically):
Cameron Akins, Wide Receiver, 6-1, 178, Pasadena, CA (Cathedral HS)
Akins caught 53 passes for 803 yards and four touchdowns as a senior under head coach Kevin Pearson at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, the same school which produced Mustang slotback Kristaan Ivory. Akins also recorded 32 tackles and 10 pass breakups on defense. Thirteen of Akins' catches were made in the Harvard-Westlake game. He earned second-team All-Mission League honors and also was chosen his team's offensive MVP. The Phantoms posted a 10-3 overall record and finished third in the Mission League at 3-2. Cathedral reached the semifinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs last fall. Akins played just four games as a junior and caught 19 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown before he was sidelined with a knee injury. Akins also runs on the track and field team at Cathedral with best times of 14.50 seconds in the 110-meter high hurdles and 40.27 in the 300-meter intermediates. The Del Rey League high hurdles champion placed second in the high hurdles at the CIF-Southern Section Division III finals in 2012. In addition to Cal Poly, Akins was recruited by San Jose State, Fresno State and Sacramento State, choosing to be a Mustangs because "I love the coaching staff and I get an opportunity to play with my old teammate (Ivory). I love the environment, and the academic standards are very intriguing."
Ross Berry, Lineman, 6-4, 285, Templeton, CA (Templeton HS)
Berry anchored an offensive line that helped Templeton, the smallest school in the Los Padres League, to a 7-4 record, third-place LPL finish and a berth in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs last fall. Templeton is coached by former Cal Poly lineman and Arena Football League standout Dan Loney. Berry earned first-team All-Los Padres League honors as both a junior and senior. He also was a first-team All-San Luis Obispo County and All-CIF-Southern Section Western Division selection as a senior and was chosen as Templeton's lineman of the year. In his junior season, Berry earned all-league, all-county, all-CIF-Northwestern Division and all-state honors while collecting Templeton's Ironman Award. He earned all-county and all-state honors as a sophomore. Berry also competes on Templeton's track and field team with best marks of 46-7 3/4 in the shot put and 124-9 in the discus. He received offers from Nevada, Sacramento State and San Jose State and also was recruited by UC Davis, Army, San Diego State, Boise State, Utah State and Fresno State. Berry chose Cal Poly's offer because "I have always wanted to go there. I grew up just north of San Luis Obispo and have been a fan of Cal Poly football for as long as I can remember. Cal Poly is the best fit for me academically and also has an outstanding football program. After I met all of the coaches and players, I knew I wanted to be a part of this program." Berry will be a third generation Cal Poly graduation as his grandfather, stepfather and mother are Cal Poly grads. Former Cal Poly fullback Jake Romanelli (2008-11) also is a Templeton High School graduate.
Aaryn Bouzos, Safety, 5-9, 190, La Mirada, CA (La Mirada HS)
As a senior under head coach Mike Moschetti at La Mirada High School in 2010, Bouzos notched 63 tackles on defense and caught 25 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns on offense. His tackles included 41 solo stops and he made 15 tackles in a game against Norwalk. For the season, Bouzos also earned two interceptions, six pass breakups, blocked one field goal and recovered three fumbles, helping the Matadores to a 7-4 record. Bouzos earned first-team All-Suburban League and first-team All-CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division honors and was named team defensive MVP and Golden Matadore. As a junior in 2009, Bouzos caught 16 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown and, on defense, earned 87 total tackles, including 18 against Laguna Hills, recovered two fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown. He also returned 12 kickoffs an average of 31 yards per return, scoring two touchdowns (89 and 97 yards) en route to first-team All-Suburban League, All-CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division, All-Area and Dream Team honors. He was his team's special teams MVP and led the Matadores to a 13-1 record and the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship. Bouzos attended Air Force Prep School during the 2011-12 school year but did not play football for the Falcons. After considering New Mexico State, Wyoming and Nebraska, he transferred to Cal Poly "for the great academics that they have to offer, great location, perfect atmosphere and to help win a national football championship."
Jake Brito, Running Back, 6-1, 220, Cypress, CA (Cypress HS)
Under head coach Bob Burt at Cypress High School last fall, Brito (pictured above at right) rushed for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, and caught nine passes for 202 yards and two scores. His rushing performance included 150 yards on 22 carries against Corona del Mar. The Centurions were 4-6 in 2012, including a 2-4 record in the Empire League. Brito earned first-team All-Empire League honors and also landed on the Empire League's All-Academic Team. He was named team MVP and was a team captain. As a junior in 2011, Brito rushed for 669 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 7.3 yards per trip, and caught 13 passes for 298 yards and three scores en route to first-team All-Empire League honors. Cypress was 9-3 in 2011 and captured a share of the Empire League title, reaching the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs. Brito was named Empire League Rookie of the Year as a sophomore. He was recruited by Nevada, Sacramento State and Cal Poly, choosing to be a Mustang because "after visiting choice colleges, it was Cal Poly's excellent academic reputation and superior athletic program that stood out amongst the rest, not to mention the amazing surroundings. The connection and positive support of the coaching staff, players and community were most impressive, while the comfort and amenities of this enriching institute made it feel like home."
Marshaun Daniel, Linebacker, 5-11, 210, Cerritos, CA (Tustin HS)
Daniel made 90 tackles, including 57 solo stops, as a senior linebacker under head coach Myron Miller at Tustin High School last fall. Daniel also notched six sacks, 14 tackles for lost yardage, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups, helping the Tillers to a 12-1 overall record, Empire League title and a spot in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs. Daniel also carried the ball 30 times for 235 yards and two scores and caught two passes for 30 yards on the other side of the line. He earned first-team All-Empire League honors and landed a spot on the school's Honor Roll. As a junior, Daniel logged 95 tackles (57 solo), five sacks, nine tackles for lost yardage, three forced fumbles and five pass breakups in leading the Tillers to an 11-3 record, a share of the Empire League title and the championship of the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs. Daniel was recruited by UC Davis and chose Cal Poly because of its "great overall environment, the quality of education I will receive, its strong football program, excellent coaching staff and the brotherhood among the players. Planning to major in communication studies at Cal Poly, Daniel played Kirby Palmer on the hit sitcom "King of Queens" for four seasons.
Jack Ferguson, Linebacker, 6-2, 245, San Luis Obispo, CA (San Luis Obispo HS)
Twice named defensive back of the year in the Pac-7 League, Ferguson (pictured above in middle) compiled 262 tackles in the last two seasons as a linebacker under head coach David Kelley at San Luis Obispo High School. As a senior, Ferguson notched 19 quarterback hurries, 110 total tackles (66 solo), nine sacks (three in one game against Righetti), four pass breakups and forced four fumbles. Fifteen of his tackles came in the Tigers' first-round CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoff game against Canyon of Canyon Country. San Luis Obispo finished 6-5 overall and third in the Pac-7 at 4-2. A team captain, Ferguson earned first-team All-Pac 7, All-San Luis Obispo County and All-CIF-Southern Section Northern Division honors while maintaining a 4.2 grade-point average. As a junior, Ferguson compiled 152 total tackles (95 solo), 5.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a blocked field goal. He also returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown against Dos Pueblos. The Tigers were 8-4 in 2011. Ferguson has maintained a 4.2 grade-point average and was recruited by UC Davis, Eastern Washington, Portland State and Sacramento State, choosing Cal Poly because of "the location, coaches, team chemistry, possibility of earlier playing time and, overall, it seems like a great atmosphere."
Joey Kuperman, Offensive Line, 6-1, 285, San Diego, CA (Cathedral Catholic HS)
Kuperman capped his senior season under head coach Sean Doyle at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego by landing a spot on the 2012 Cal-Hi Sports All-State Second Team (Medium Schools) as an offensive lineman. He also earned second-team CIF-San Diego Section and first-team All-Eastern League honors and was named to the 2012 All-Academic Football Team as chosen by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Kuperman also was a team co-captain, voted the team's best lineman and earned first-team All-San Diego Section honors as selected by Southern California Preps. The Dons were 0-11 in 2012, one year after capturing the CIF-San Diego Section Division III championship with a 12-1 record. Kuperman earned second-team All-Eastern League honors, was the lone junior starter on the Dons' offensive line in 2011 and was named defensive lineman MVP of the National Underclass Combine. Besides Cal Poly, Kuperman was recruited by Air Force, Navy, Army, San Diego, UC Davis and San Diego State, selecting Cal Poly "for multiple reasons: the great education it offers and then the opportunity to play football. I thought that there is no better place to do that than at Cal Poly. When I took my official visit, I just loved the school. I like the fact that is was close to home so my family can see me play. The atmosphere around the school was great and I also considered the opportunities I would have from graduating from Cal Poly." Kuperman, a three-year varsity football letter winner, also was a four-year rugby starter, played on three SoCal championship teams, a pair of runner-up squads and earned numerous postseason honors. He was invited to try out for the High School All-American Rugby Team in 2010 and competed on the 2011 Southern California Griffins All-Star Rugby Team.
Kyle Lewis, Running Back/Free Safety, 6-0, 190, San Marcos, CA (San Marcos HS)
Lewis was a running back and free safety under head coach Jason Texler at San Marcos High School in San Diego County. As a senior, he rushed for 455 yards on 69 carries, scoring six touchdowns, and also caught 15 passes for 311 yards and another score. Lewis earned second-team All-Valley League honors as he led the Knights to a 5-6 overall record and a spot in the CIF-San Diego Section Division II playoffs. In his junior season (2011), Lewis made 85 tackles on defense, recovered a fumble and returned a kickoff 79 yards for a score against Orange Glen. He was recruited by Idaho State, South Dakota, Campbell, Azusa Pacific, Menlo College and Pasadena College, choosing Cal Poly "because academically and athletically, it was the right fit for me." Lewis also is a member of the San Marcos track and field team with personal bests of 11.20 in the 100 meters and 23.42 in the 200 meters.
Sean McDonald, Offensive Line, 6-4, 285, San Mateo, CA (Hillsdale HS/CC San Francisco)
The lone community college transfer so far, McDonald twice earned first-team All-NorCal Football Conference honors as an offensive tackle, was named to the all-state team as a sophomore and helped City College of San Francisco to its second straight state championship game. The Rams, 10-2 overall and NorCal Football Conference tri-champions, fell 35-14 to Bakersfield College in December. McDonald, a team captain last fall, will be a junior at Cal Poly in 2013 and has not used a redshirt year. He is a 2011 graduate of Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, where he led the Knights of head coach Mike Parodi Jr. to a 6-4 mark in 2010 and a second-place tie in the Peninsula-Lake League. McDonald earned first-team All-Peninsula-Lake League honors for the second time and was named the league's offensive lineman of the year in 2010. He also landed on the All-San Mateo County first team. McDonald also was a pitcher on the baseball team at Hillsdale and competed on the track and field team with personal bests of 42-2 in the shot put and 114-3 1/2 in the discus. He was recruited by Appalachian State, Sacramento State, Connecticut, Memphis, Nevada, New Mexico State, Florida Atlantic, Texas-San Antonio and San Jose State, choosing Cal Poly "to become a part of a successful football program with a great coaching staff and to give myself the opportunity of a great education in the beautiful town of San Luis Obispo."
Joe Protheroe, Running Back, 6-1, 210, Concord, CA (Clayton Valley Charter HS)
Protheroe (pictured above at left) was the third-leading rusher in California last fall, gaining a school-record 3,014 yards on 234 carries and scoring 34 touchdowns under head coach Tim Murphy at Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord. Averaging 215.3 yards per game and 12.9 yards per carry, he also caught one pass for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 94 yards against Rancho Cotate for another score, scoring 222 total points in his senior season. A team captain, Protheroe surpassed the 100-yard mark in all 14 games last fall, leading the Eagles to a 12-2 overall mark, a Diablo Valley Athletic League title, the CIF-North Coast Section Division 2 championship -- their first section title in five tries -- and a berth in the semifinals of the California state Division II playoffs, where the Eagles fell 27-24 to Oakdale. Protheroe cracked the 200-yard mark seven times, including 427 yards on 25 carries and five touchdowns against Dublin and 306 yards on 17 trips and three scores versus Vintage. He caught nine passes for 154 yards and, as a defensive back, made 63 tackles (45 solo), intercepted four passes and broke up three others. Protheroe's postseason honors include Offensive Player of the Year by the Bay Area News Group, MaxPreps All-NorCal, San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro First Team, Contra Costa Times All-East Bay Team, CIF-North Coast Section Player of the Year and Diablo Valley Athletic League MVP. As a junior in 2011, Protheroe rushed for 1,062 yards on 202 carries and scored 14 touchdowns with four 100-yard-plus games, caught 19 passes for 206 yards and two scores and notched 76 tackles and three interceptions en route to first-team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League honors as a running back and safety. He was an All-DVAL first-team running back and second-team safety as a sophomore, rushing for 510 yards and six touchdowns, catching eight passes for 102 yards and one score and garnering 29 yards and one interception on defense. In addition to Cal Poly, Protheroe also received an offer from Sacramento State and was recruited as a walk-on by San Jose State, Fresno State, Montana State and Oregon. He chose Cal Poly because of "the coaching staff, the team, the education and the atmosphere."
Zach Rusick, Defensive Line, 6-5, 255, Irvine, CA (Woodbridge HS)
Soon to be a graduate of Woodbridge High School in Irvine, the same school that produced former Mustang defensive line standout James Chen, Rusick recorded 58 total tackles (39 solo), including seven sacks, as a senior under head coach Rick Gibson. Rusick also recovered one fumble, caused two others and blocked a field goal attempt. His season high was 15 tackles in a playoff loss to Corona del Mar. He also was a tight end on offense, catching 16 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns. Rusick earned first-team All-Irvine City, All-Pacific Coast League and All-CIF-Southern Section Southern Division honors. He led the Warriors to a 7-6 record, second-place tie in the Pacific Coast League and a spot in the semifinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Southern Division playoffs. Rusick made 15 tackles, including two sacks, as a junior. Recruited by San Diego, Nevada and Montana State, Rusick chose Cal Poly because it "stood out academically above the other schools I was considering as well as their football program in general. I also really like the coaches and the players than I had an opportunity to meet. I really felt that it was an overall good fit for me. San Luis Obispo is an amazing place. I'm really excited to attend school there."
Josh Savage, Wide Receiver, 6-1, 198, Alta Loma, CA (Damien HS)
Savage caught 35 passes for 830 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior under head coach Greg Gano at Damien High School in La Verne. He earned first-team All-Sierra League honors for the second straight year, was named the team's wide receiver of the year, also for the second consecutive season, and is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars. As a junior, Savage caught 30 passes for 721 yards and seven scores. On defense he made 30 tackles, including a sack, and recovered one fumble. Savage was recruited by Eastern Washington, Sacramento State, South Dakota State, Illinois State, Howard and Cal, deciding on Cal Poly "for football as well as academics. Cal Poly excels above a lot of other schools in both, but also for the whole atmosphere and environment. It fits my personality more so than the other schools and everybody is so relaxed. It's just the right size and not too far from home to where I'll be comfortable."