Fourteen Sign to Further Their Football Careers at Cal Poly
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly has signed a total of 11 high school football players, one community college transfer and a pair of transfers from four-year schools to either the National Letter of Intent or Grant-in-Aid offer. The announcement was made Wednesday by sixth-year Mustang football coach Tim Walsh and Cal Poly director of athletics Don Oberhelman at Charlie's Place on Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo.
The class of recruits includes five linemen, three linebackers, three defensive backs, two running backs and one quarterback.
"There is no question we got some help in the defensive tackle position with this class," said Walsh, noting the departure of Sullivan Grosz and Nick Leyden. "We're getting two big freshmen in Fino Elisaia (305 pounds) and Samo Savusa (285 pounds), and to get those two is a big step in the right direction.
"One of the toughest kind of player to recruit at our level is one with size, grades and the ability to play Division I football,"Walsh added. "One of them probably will need to play as a true freshman.
"We also have three four-year transfers who will make a big impact on the field this fall," Walsh added. Washington State transfer Logan Mayes, a defensive end, enrolled at Cal Poly in January and the Mustangs announced today the transfer of linebacker Burton De Koning from Nevada and defensive back Solomon Dixon from Idaho.
"Mayes gives us a solid pass rusher." said Walsh. "Dixon can play multiple positions as an impact player and where he plays for us is still to be determined. De Koning started against Florida State, so he's played in a big time environment. With the addition of De Koning, the linebacker position will continue to be competitive. He will make that group as good as last year."
Cal Poly also signed one community college transfer, offensive lineman Calvin Sandeen from Santa Rosa Junior College. Sandeen missed the second half of the 2013 season due to a knee injury, which scared some Football Bowl Subdivision schools away.
"It gave other schools like us the opportunity to get him," Walsh said of Sandeen's injury. "He should be 100 percent by July 1 and, if he is, he will make an immediate impact on the offensive line." Lefi Letuligasenoa, Giovanni Sani and Mike Freeman all were seniors last fall.
One of the high school recruits is linebacker Noah Letuligasenoa, the third member of the family to play football at Cal Poly, following Lefi and Josh, a defensive lineman.
"Most of the high school guys we signed were with an eye on the future," said Walsh. "Letuligasenoa will be a great player for us and, with Alex Suchesk and Lance Mudd, we have two guys who can run very well."
Cal Poly is expected to have another four-man quarterback battle in the spring, but the Mustangs did sign one more signal caller, Kai Ross of Huntington Beach High School, who produced over 3,100 rushing and passing yards as a senior and over 2,300 yards as a junior.
"Ross was recruited as a quarterback and we are really impressed with his athletic ability, overall knowledge of the game of football and the way he handles himself," Walsh said of the Orange County Offensive Player of the Year.
The Regular Signing Period opened today and ends April 1.
Cal Poly football, presented by French Hospital Medical Center, posted a 6-6 mark in 2013, one year after capturing a share of the Big Sky Conference championship in its first season in the league. The Mustangs are 12-4 in their first two years in the Big Sky.
The Mustangs, conference champions five times in the last 10 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 2012.
The signees (listed by position):
Augustino (Fino) Elisaia, Defensive Tackle, 6-0, 305, Union City, CA (James Logan HS)
Elisaia collected 68 tackles, including four sacks and 12 for lost yardage, along with four pass breakups and two forced fumbles as a senior under head coach George Zuber at James Logan High School in Union City. He earned first-team All-Bay Area News Group East Bay honors on the defensive line and also was All-Metro honorable mention. The Colts, who played a freelance schedule, finished 9-3 overall and reached the quarterfinal round of the CIF-North Coast Section Division I playoffs. Elisaia was named to the Polynesian All-American Bowl and also earned his team's Defensive Player of the Year, Top Linemen Of the Year and Captain Award. Elisaia was a team captain and has earned the team's Scholar-Athlete Award three consecutive years. He also was a fullback on offense, rushing for 67 yards on eight carries and scoring one touchdown. As a junior, Elisaia notched 74 tackles, including two sacks, and recovered one fumble. Elisaia also considered offers from San Jose State, Idaho State and Sacramento State and received interest from Eastern Oregon, Boise State, UC Davis, Colorado, Army, Penn State, Cal, Colorado State, Stanford, Nevada, Washington State and USC before choosing Cal Poly because "they made me feel at home and that's what I wanted. I'm majoring in sciences or engineering and Cal Poly has one of the best engineering programs in the world. Football is temporary and I wanted to make sure that, where I go, I will have a good degree after that." Elisaia, an Honors/Advanced Placement student, benches 350 pounds, squats 610, and has recorded a 235-pound power clean. He was named the MVP of the Arizona State satellite camp in the Bay Area and participated in the Stanford Prospect Camp last June.
Tiasamo (Samo) Savusa, Defensive Tackle, 6-1, 285, San Diego, CA (Madison HS)
Savusa earned first-team All-Western League honors as a senior under head coach Rick Jackson at Madison High School in San Diego last fall. Savusa recorded 70 tackles (37 solo), including eight tackles for lost yardage and three sacks. He also recovered a fumble and intercepted two passes, returning one 20 yards for a touchdown against La Jolla. Savusa was named most valuable lineman on his team and earned second-team All-CIF-San Diego Section honors. The Warhawks finished 9-2 overall and reached the quarterfinal round of the CIF-San Diego Section Division II playoffs. In 2012, Madison captured the state Division III title with a 14-1 record and Savusa garnered 60 tackles (41 solo), including three for lost yardage, along with three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery. Savusa also competes in track and field in the shot put and discus events. Recruited by UC Davis and Idaho, Savusa chose Cal Poly because "I believe it has an excellent education program and I also believe in what Coach Walsh has planned for the football team. I would love to be a part of it."
Burton De Koning, Linebacker, 6-2, 225, Folsom, CA (Folsom HS/Nevada)
De Koning transfers to Cal Poly from Nevada, where he redshirted the 2011 season, played 10 games as a backup linebacker as well as on on special teams in 2012 and played in all 12 games as a sophomore in 2013, mostly on special teams, with 11 total tackles (seven solo). He has two years of eligibility remaining at Cal Poly. De Koning is a graduate of Folsom High School, where he lettered three times in football under head coach Kris Richardson and led the team to a 14-1 record, Delta River League title, CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title and California state Division II championship as a senior. He was named first-team All-Delta River League as a junior and senior, earned first-team all-area honors from the Sacramento Bee, was named second-team All-NorCal and third-team All-State as a senior and was team defensive MVP after recording 78 total tackles (49 solo), including 12 sacks, and one forced fumble. De Koning also was a second-team all-league selection in baseball as a senior and was a two-time letterwinner on the diamond as an outfielder. He hit .327 in his senior season (2011) with 16 RBI. Cal Poly's football roster is dotted with other Folsom High School graduates, including Dano Graves, Carson McMurtrey, Tanner Trosin and Stephen Sippel. De Koning chose to transfer to Cal Poly because "it has a great reputation for academics and I have past teammates that play here. Cal Poly football is going to be great in the years to come. The possibility of playing baseball is awesome, too. I love the town. San Luis Obispo is beautiful."
Clayton Hibbert, Linebacker, 6-0, 205, Sun Valley, CA (Oaks Christian HS)
As a senior under head coach Jeff Woodruff at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village, Hibbert recorded 64 total tackles (44 solo), including six for lost yardage and three sacks, leading the Lions to an 8-3 record, first-place finish in the Marmonte League's West Division and a berth in the CIF-Southern Section Pac 5 playoffs. He also notched two interceptions and recovered one fumble. Postseason honors include the team's athlete-scholar award and Oaks Christian's Michelle McKittrick Iron Man Award. Hibbert also had 45 tackles (31 solo) as a junior, including two sacks, as Oaks Christian again posted an 8-3 mark and won the Marmonte League West Division crown. Hibbert also competes in track and field with best marks of 43-0 in the 10-pound shot put, 41-1 1/2 in the 12-pound shot put, 93-8 in the discus and 19-10 3/4 in the long jump. He was named Homecoming King in 2013. Recruited by Northern Arizona, Azusa Pacific, LaVerne, Lafayette College, Waldorf College and Denison University, Hibbert chose Cal Poly because "it will challenge me academically and provide me with the best education for my future goals. I love the atmosphere of Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo. It's close to the mountains, the beach and home."
Noah Letuligasenoa, Linebacker, 5-11, 205, Sacramento, CA (Elk Grove HS)
The third member of the family to play football at Cal Poly following offensive lineman Lefi and defensive end Josh, Noah was a linebacker and tight end under head coach Chris Nixon at Elk Grove High School last fall, where he finished his prep career with 31 sacks. He earned Sacramento Bee Division II player of the year honors and Delta Valley Conference defensive lineman of the year. A team captain, Letuligasenoa also was a first-team All-Metro selection by the Bee as a tight end, a first-team all-conference choice and a second-team all-state honoree by MaxPreps. Other honors include Sports Stars All-NorCal second team and MaxPreps Sac-Joaquin Section second team. Letuligasenoa caught 16 passes for 390 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end and notched 88 tackles (39 solo), including 18.5 sacks, along with three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble as a linebacker. He returned one fumble 67 yards for a touchdown against Rio Linda, another 27 yards for another score against Monterey Trail and made a season-high 10 tackles against Davis. Elk Grove was 12-2 last fall, tied for first place in the Delta Valley Conference and finished second to Del Oro in the CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. As a junior in 2012, Letuligasenoa caught 12 passes for 298 yards and three scores and earned 55 tackles (26 solo), including four sacks, along with seven quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery. He had 39 tackles (23 solo), including 8.5 sacks, and one interception and four fumble recoveries as a sophomore in 2011. Sacramento State, South Dakota and Air Force also recruited Letuligasenoa and Noah chose Cal Poly because Cal Poly is an amazing school, its football program is amazing, San Luis Obispo is a beautiful town, the school's pride and tradition are outstanding and because of my two brothers, who I love very much."
Solomon Dixon, Defensive Back, 5-9, 175, Honolulu, HI (McKinley HS/Idaho)
Dixon played for two seasons at the University of Idaho as a cornerback after a redshirt year and will have two years of eligibility remaining at Cal Poly. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Dixon played in all 12 games with four starts for the Vandals and led the team with three interceptions (Utah State, North Carolina, Bowling Green). He recorded 36 total tackles (27 solo), including three for lost yardage, and also blocked one kick (against Wyoming). He made nine tackles (seven solo) against San Jose State. Last fall, Dixon played the first five games before injury cut short his sophomore season, earning 31 total tackles (29 solo), including three for lost yardage and one sack. He also intercepted a pass against Wyoming and, in his two seasons with the Vandals, had six pass breakups and four interceptions. As a freshman, Dixon earned College Sports Madness All-Independent first-team and Phil Steele All-Independent second-team honors as a cornerback. Dixon is a 2011 graduate of McKinley High School in Honolulu, where he was one of the top recruits of the Hawai'i class of 2011. As a senior under head coach Bobby Grey in 2010, he earned recognition as the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Offensive Player of the Year, the OIA White first-team utility, the OIA White first-team defensive back and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State utility. As a junior, he was a second-team all-state player by the Honolulu Star Bulletin and an honorable mention choice of the Honolulu Advertiser. He also was on the 2009 all-Katoosh team, which recognizes the hardest hitters. Dixon rushed for a school-record 267 yards against Waialua in 2010 and rushed for over 100 yards in five other games, finishing with 1,165 yards in nine games. Dixon also competed in track and was the 2009 state 400-meter champion and was third in the state in the 200 meters as a sophomore. As a junior, he finished third in the 400 and fifth in the 200. Dixon chose to transfer to Cal Poly because "the coaches treated me like family and made me feel comfortable to call this my home for the next two years."
Aaron Johnson, Defensive Back, 6-0, 175, Fresno, CA (Edison HS)
Johnson collected 75 tackles, one interception and 10 pass breakups as a senior safety under head coach Matt Johnson at Edison High School in Fresno. He also forced four fumbles and recovered a pair. Johnson helped the Tigers to a 9-2 overall mark, second-place finish in the County/Metro League and a berth in the CIF-Central Section Division I playoffs. As a junior, Johnson logged 55 tackles, including three sacks, and recovered four fumbles. Johnson benches 235 pounds and squats 315 pounds. Also recruited by UC Davis, Johnson chose Cal Poly because "it has a great academic and athletic program."
Mekai Sheffie, Defensive Back, 5-11, 175, Los Angeles, CA (Loyola HS)
A wide receiver and cornerback as a senior under head coach Marvin Sanders at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Sheffie caught eight passes for 232 yards and five touchdowns last fall while on defense earned 31 tackles (17 solo) and 11 pass breakups. He also returned an interception for a touchdown and recovered one fumble. Loyola was 4-6 in 2013. Sheffie, selected to play in the D1Bound All-Star Game in December as well as the PrepStar/CaliClassic Senior Bowl, also competes in track and field with best marks of 10.77 in the 100 (at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet) and 22.97 in the 200. He anchored the school's 4-by-100 relay team which finished second in the state finals with a time of 40.83 seconds. In football as a junior, Sheffie caught eight passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Sheffie also played rugby for championship Santa Monica Rugby Club. Also recruited by Wyoming, Fordham, Penn, Yale and Cornell, Sheffie chose Cal Poly because "I wanted an environment that would challenge me academically while allowing me to play at the highest possible division in football. The coaching staff was genuine and supportive, the location is close to home, and the possibility of playing on a championship team makes it all the better." Sheffie plans to major in biological sciences at Cal Poly and wants to ne a neurosurgeon. He has volunteered at The Jenesse Center for Battered and Abused Women.
Kai Ross, Quarterback, 6-3, 190, Stanton, CA (Huntington Beach HS)
Ross accounted for 3,100 total yards as a senior under head coach Eric Lo at Huntington Beach High School last fall. Ross completed 167 of 283 passes (59 percent) for 2,291 yards and 31 touchdowns while also rushing for 810 yards on 146 carries and nine more scores. Ross compiled five games of 200 or more yards passing and seven games of 70 or more yards rushing. On defense as a cornerback, Ross made 67 tackles (48 solo), including two for lost yardage, and also intercepted seven passes for 192 yards and broke up 15 other passes. Ross led the Oilers to a 9-5 overall record and the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division championship with a 42-28 win over Newport Harbor at Angels Stadium. Ross completed 10 of 12 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 90 yards on 11 carries and returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the title game. He was named Sunset League offensive back of the year, Orange County offensive player of the year, CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division defensive player of the year and MaxPreps All-State Division II defensive back. Ross was a team captain and earned his team's most valuable player honor, both for the second straight year. As a junior, Ross passed for 1,420 yards and 16 touchdowns and intercepted three passes and make 37 tackles on defense, earning first-team All-Sunset League and All-CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division honors. He had 11 receptions, three for touchdowns, as a sophomore. Ross also plays basketball at Huntington Beach. Also recruited by Colorado State, San Diego State, Idaho and Montana, Ross chose Cal Poly because it has "the most beautiful campus filled with the people I want to spend five years with winning football games."
Alex Suchesk, Running Back, 5-9, 185, Ladera Ranch, CA (Mission Viejo HS)
Suchesk was a first-team All-Orange County selection as a junior after rushing for 1,177 yards and added 1,089 yards as a senior under head coach Bob Johnson at Mission Viejo High School. Suchesk helped the Diablos to 11 consecutive wins before Mission Viejo fell 21-14 to Mater Dei in the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Pac 5 playoffs. Suchesk averaged 9.6 yards per carry and scored 19 touchdowns last fall. As a junior, he scored 27 touchdowns and averaged 7.7 yards per carry. Suchesk was a second-team All-South Coast League selection in 2013 and a first-team choice in 2012. He earned first-team All-CIF-Southern Section honors as a senior and first-team All-Orange County honors as a junior. Suchesk transferred to Mission Viejo from Santa Margarita after his sophomore season and is a four-year varsity letterman in football. Suchesk won the South Coast League 100 in 10.86 seconds last spring and was second in the 200 at 22.08 seconds. His best time in the 100 is 10.70 seconds and he has earned all-Orange County honors in track. Suchesk was recruited by Army, Navy, Dartmouth, Penn, BYU, UC Davis, Montana State, Villanova and Sacramento State, choosing Cal Poly because "I was looking for a school with a strong academic reputation and a great football program combined, with a good location and great coaches and people. Cal Poly was the best fit."
Lance Mudd, Running Back, 6-0, 190, Poway, CA (Poway HS)
Under head coach Damon Gonzalez at Poway High School last fall, Mudd rushed for 420 yards and nine touchdowns and caught nine passes for 103 yards. He broke off a 68-yard scoring run against San Pasqual and Mudd also returned a blocked punt 35 yards for a touchdown against La Costa Canyon. Poway was 4-7 last fall, earning a berth in the CIF-San Diego Section Open Division playoffs. As a junior in 2012, Mudd rushed for over 500 yards and averaged almost two touchdowns per game before breaking both bones in his left forearm in the eighth game of the season. Mudd also runs track with best marks of 10.99 in the 100 and 22.35 in the 200. He has run a 4.4 40-yard dash and is a CIF-San Diego Section champion and state meet qualifier in track. Mudd, a San Diego Union-Tribune All-Academic Team member, was recruited by Washington, Boise State, Colorado State, UC Davis, UNLV and Azusa Pacific, selecting Cal Poly because "it has a reputation as an academically challenging university, graduating the best of the best. I want to be part of a culture of academic excellence and high-level competition. I also believe my athletic abilities will be enhanced because of the excellent coaching staff as I help my new team win a championship title." Mudd, who was a member of the American Red Cross for one year, claims to be in pursuit of two patents "which I believe can change competition in all sports."
Calvin Sandeen, Offensive Line, 6-6, 275, Windsor, CA (El Molino HS/Santa Rosa College)
Sandeen is a transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College, where he utilized a redshirt year and played two seasons under head coach Lenny Wagner. He has two years of eligibility remaining at Cal Poly. Sandeen started on an offensive line last fall that generated 356 yards and 30 points per game. He started the first five games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Santa Rosa finished 6-5 in 2013. As a freshman in 2012, Sandeen started eight games at right tackle. As a senior in 2010 at El Molino High School in Forestville, Sandeen caught three passes, one for a touchdown, and made 30 tackles, breaking up a pair of passes as well en route to a spot on the All-Sonoma County League first team as a defensive end. Sandeen, who was selected to play in the Kiwanis High School All-Star Game for the Sonoma County League All-Stars, also played basketball and volleyball at El Molino High. Sandeen was recruited by UC Davis, Colorado State, Wyoming and Old Dominion, choosing Cal Poly because "the area is awesome and the coaches have great chemistry with the players. The school is phenomenal and overall it is the perfect place for a guy like me. Cal Poly has a great business and economics program that caught my attention and the area, football team and coaches made me feel welcome and at home." Sandeen plans to major in economics and enjoys white water rafting and cooking big meals for friends and family.
Sam Ogee, Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 285, Livermore, CA (Livermore HS)
Ogee was an offensive lineman and defensive tackle as a senior under head coach Greg Haubner at Livermore High School last fall. He was named the Cowboys' best overall lineman and, on defense, earned 35 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one quarterback hurry en route to second-team All-East Bay Athletic League honors. Ogee also earned the team's Anvil Award for the second straight year as the best overall lineman as well as the Outstanding Cowboy Award. As a junior, he made 30 tackles, recovered a fumble and sacked the quarterback once, earning All-East Bay Athletic League honorable mention praise. He also was named his team's best defensive lineman in 2012. Ogee, who will come to Cal Poly with a 4.3 grade-point average, also plays lacrosse at Livermore High. He chose to be a Mustang over Yale, Harvard, UC Davis, Sacramento State and Brown because "it felt like the best fit for me academically and athletically. I also felt at home on the campus."
Zachary Shallcross, Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 260, Anaheim, CA (Servite HS)
As a senior under head coach A.J. Gass at Servite High School in Anaheim, Shallcross earned second-team All-Trinity League honors last fall. Servite posted a 6-6 record, finished tied for third in the Trinity League and reached the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Pac 5 Division playoffs. For the 2013 season, Shallcross was selected by the coaching staff to wear the Kevin Stevenson honored jersey No. 78 because of his leadership, dedication and outstanding work ethic. Shallcross, a member of the Curia, an elite corps of the Friars, and a team captain, has recorded a 285-pound bench press and 445-pound squat. He also competes in track and field with best marks of 44-9 in the shot put and 104-2 in the discus. Current and former Mustangs who graduated from Servite include Karlton Dennis, Chris Nicholls and Bijon Samoodi. Shallcross was recruited by California, Sacramento State, San Diego State and Merrimack, choosing Cal Poly "for its academic reputation and fell of the campus, and the football program." He enjoys camping with his family and has been involved at Servite with feeding the homeless through "Her Servant's Kitchen."