Eighteen Recruits Sign to Continue Football Careers at Cal Poly

Eighteen Recruits Sign to Continue Football Careers at Cal Poly


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly has signed a total of 16 high school football players and two community college transfers to either the National Letter of Intent or Grant-in-Aid offer. The announcement was made Wednesday by ninth-year Mustang football coach Tim Walsh and Cal Poly director of athletics Don Oberhelman in the Cal Poly Football Office.

The class of recruits includes a pair of defensive backs, two linebackers, five defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, one wide receiver, three running backs and two quarterbacks.

"First and foremost, when you look at the group of linemen, both offense and defense, it's probably as good as it gets," said Walsh. "The three offensive linemen all have outstanding athletic ability and, with the loss of four guys from last year's team, the incentive was to fill that position quickly.

"On the defensive line, three of the five guys who signed today might play as freshmen," Walsh added. "Overall, we may see six or seven of today's signees have an impact as freshmen."

At 5-10 and 160, wide receiver Eli Shelton is being compared to Roland Jackson, Jr., while quarterback signees Kyle Reid (6-1, 200) and Conor Bruce (5-11, 184) "are big and extremely athletic," Walsh noted. "We found two really good young quarterbacks."

The recruiting class also includes two running backs and a fullback. "Overall, this group will help us with their speed," Walsh said, "and Duy Tran-Sampson is a lot like a faster Akaninyene Umoh. He can do a lot of damage at the H-Back position for us.

"There is no question that depth on defense and overall athletic ability were our focus during this recruiting period," Walsh added. "With this group, we will be able to move many of these guys around, whether it be linebacker or in the secondary or somewhere on offense."

The Regular Signing Period opened today and ends April 1.

Cal Poly posted a 7-5 mark in 2016, including a 5-3 record for a fourth-place tie with Southern Utah in the 13-team Big Sky Conference. The Mustangs, who captured the championship in their first season in the league (2012), are 25-15 in their first five years in the Big Sky.

The Mustangs, conference champions five times in the last 13 years, including four titles in the eight-year existence of the Great West Conference (2004-11), earned their fourth NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth in 2016.

The signees (listed by position):

Conor Bruce, QB, 5-11, 184,
    Bakersfield, CA (Garces Memorial High School)

Under head coach A.J. Gass at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield, Bruce helped the Rams to a 7-4 mark last fall, including a third-place finish in the Southwest Yosemite League and a berth in the CIF-Central Section Division II playoffs. As a senior, Bruce completed 37 of 63 passes for 747 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games, missing the final six games due to a fractured fibula. He also rushed for 432 yards and six scores. Against San Joaquin Memorial, Bruce passed for 258 yards and rushed for 151 yards, accounting for 409 yards and scoring four touchdowns on his 18th birthday. The team captain was named All-Area honorable mention by the Bakersfield Californian and earned All-Southwest Yosemite League honorable mention praise. He also twice was named Hometown Sports player of the week and made the Hometown Sports All-Star Team. As a junior, Bruce passed for 390 yards with one touchdown, rushed for 442 yards and three scores and caught 16 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He was successful in turning four of four fake punts into first downs and earned All-Southwest Yosemite League and Garces Memorial utility player of the year honors. Bruce also competed in track and field with personal bests of 10.84 in the 100 and 21.80 in the 200. He was named Kern Invitational Track Athlete of the Meet in 2016. In addition to Cal Poly, Bruce was recruited by Army, Air Force, Montana State and Northern Colorado. He chose to be a Mustang because of Cal Poly's "great academics, football program and location."

Kyle Reid, QB, 6-1, 200,
    Los Gatos, CA (Los Gatos High School)

As a senior under head coach Mark Krail at Los Gatos High School, Reid passed for 2,001 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading the Cats to an 8-4 mark, De Anza League title and to the semifinal round of the CIF-Central Coast Section Division 2 playoffs. Reid completed 132 of 215 passes (61 percent), averaging 15.2 yards per completion. He also rushed for 535 yards (6.4 average per carry) and 10 more scores. Reid had seven games of 150 or more passing yards and threw four touchdown passes against Wilcox. He earned most valuable player honors in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League's De Anza Division and also earned second-team All-CIF-Central Coast Section and Prep2Prep Bay Area honors. Reid also was a team captain and earned the team's offensive player of the year award. Former Cal Poly quarterback Mike Fisher also played at Los Gatos. Reid was recruited by Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, San Diego, San Jose State, Colorado State, Columbia, Georgetown and Dartmouth, opting to come to Cal Poly "because of its strong academics and my connection to the coaching staff and players during my visit as well as the strong football family."

CJ Cole, RB, 6-0, 182,
   Santa Maria, CA (St. Joseph High School)

As a senior under head coach Dustin Davis at St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, Cole rushed for 1,328 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 9.4 yards per carry. He produced five 100-yard games, including 305 yards on just 22 trips against Pioneer Valley and 206 yards on 23 carries versus Santa Ynez. Cole also caught 22 passes for 202 yards and two scores and was named Los Padres League Offensive Back of the Year, a first-team Lee Central Coast Newspapers All-Area running back and team MVP. He helped the Knights to a 7-5 overall mark, second-place Los Padres League finish and a berth in the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs. Cole was primarily a wide receiver as a junior, catching 64 passes for 950 yards and 11 scores, including a season-high 10 receptions for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Atascadero. He also rushed for 139 yards and was named All-Area and All-CIF-Southern Section as a wide receiver, Los Padres League all-purpose player of the year and his team's offensive MVP. As a sophomore, Cole caught 42 passes for 625 yards and six scores. His career totals include 1,222 yards (8.0 average per carry) and 11 touchdowns rushing and 128 catches for 1,777 yards (13.9 yards per catch) and 19 scores. He also averaged 21.5 yards on 17 career kickoff returns and 15.8 yards on five punt returns. Cole also competed in track and field, capturing the Pac-8 100-meter title as a sophomore (11.18) and junior (11.00) and third in the Pac-8 shot put (49-1). He also compiled a decathlon score of 5,733 points at the Arcadia Invitational and was a CIF-Southern Section qualifier in the 100, 200, 400 relay and shot put. Cole said, "I chose Cal Poly because it's been my No. 1 the whole time. I grew up going to games and have had a lot of family go to Cal Poly. I am excited to play local and continue to live on the Central Coast."


Broc Mortensen, RB, 5-11, 178,
   Ventura, CA (Ventura High School)

Mortensen rushed for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns in 12 games as a senior under head coach Tim Garcia at Ventura High School last fall. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry and produced six 100-yard games, including 256 yards and four touchdowns against Moorpark, 254 yards and five scores against Thousand Oaks and 225 yards against Atascadero. Mortensen also made 23 catches, one for a touchdown, and also earned 17 tackles and one interception on defense as a free safety. He also averaged 26.5 yards on 15 kickoff returns, including one for 95 yards and a touchdown versus Thousand Oaks, leading the Cougars to an 8-4 overall mark, a three-way tie for first place in the Channel League and a spot in the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs. Among postseason honors were first-team All-Channel League, second-team All-Ventura County and first-team Ventura County All-Academic accolades. Twice he was named Ventura County Player of the Week and he was named Ventura County Star running back of the year. On defense, Mortensen made 17 tackles, intercepted one pass and blocked one field goal. Mortensen earned first-team All-Channel League honors as a running back. He was selected to play in the Ventura County All-Star Game and scored one touchdown on a 14-yard run. As a junior, Mortensen rushed for 1,112 yards and 15 touchdowns, caught 10 passes, one for a score, and on defense made 40 tackles and also notched one fumble recovery, two blocked punts and one blocked field goal. He was named to the All-Channel League first team and All-Ventura County second team. Mortensen also played baseball as a freshman. Recruited by UC Davis, BYU and Utah, Mortensen chose to continue his education and football career at Cal Poly because of "my relationship with the coaching staff as well as the quality of the school and the town."


Duy Tran-Sampson, RB, 6-2, 190,
   Claremont, CA (Claremont High School)

Tran-Sampson (No. 22) rushed for 5,054 yards and 41 touchdowns in his final three varsity seasons under head coach Jose "Coco" Jarin at Claremont High School. He gained 1,860 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior and 1,525 yards and 14 scores. Tran-Sampson averaged 6.9 yards per carry in his career. In his senior season against Bonita, Tran-Sampson rushed for 435 yards and five touchdowns. He also gained 281 yards in the season opener against Norte Vista and 232 yards against Alta Loma. Postseason awards include a spot on the All-Palomares League first team as a sophomore, junior and senior. Tran-Sampson had nine 100-yard games as a junior, including a season-high 261 yards against Bonita and 212 yards and five touchdowns against West Valley. As a sophomore, he produced eight 100-yard games, including 234 yards against Salesian, 223 against San Marino and 206 versus South Hills. Tran-Sampson also ran sprints on the track and field team with best marks ot 10.92 in the 100 meters and 22.36 in the 200 meters, earning Palomares League titles in both events. Recruited by BYU, Cornell and Yale, Tran-Sampson is coming to Cal Poly because of "its proximity to home, great campus environment and my relationship with the coaches."


Eli Shelton, WR, 5-10, 160,
   Chula Vista, CA (Mater Dei Catholic High School)

Under head coach John Joyner at Mater Dei Catholic High School in Chula Vista, Shelton caught 41 passes for as a senior and 23 as a junior, scoring 19 touchdowns in the two seasons. He scored eight times and accumulated 895 yards as a senior and 11 scores and 804 yards as a junior. Also as a junior, he made 23 tackles and intercepted two passes. Shelton helped the Crusaders to a 12-2 mark, the Metro Mesa League title, the CIF-San Diego Section Division II championship and a spot in the semifinals of the California state high school Division 3-AA playoffs last fall. He earned first-team All-Metro Mesa League honors. Also recruited by UC Davis, Army and Air Force, Shelton is coming to Cal Poly because "it is a perfect fit with high academics and Division I football as well as the family atmosphere."


Nico DiFronzo, OL, 6-2, 277,
   Newbury Park, CA (Oaks Christian High School)

A team captain, DiFronzo anchored an Oaks Christian offensive line that helped the Lions average 541.8 yards per game. Coach Jim Benkirt's Lions were 8-3 last fall, winning the Marmonte League title and qualifying for the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.  DiFronzo earned first-team All-Marmonte League honors for the third straight year and also earned All-Ventura County first team accolades and was named to the Ventura County All-Academic Team. As a junior, DiFronzo and the rest of the Oaks Christian offensive line powered the offense to 6,303 yards and 80 touchdowns. Other schools that recruited DiFronzo include Air Force, Army, Navy, Columbia and San Diego.

De'Jon Stuckey, OL, 6-2, 303,
   Los Angeles, CA (Cathedral High School)

With Stuckey anchoring the offensive line, Cathedral accumulated over 5,000 yards of offense and won its first 11 games of the 2016 season before falling to Rancho Verde in the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. Coached by Kevin Pearson, Cathedral claimed the Angelus League title with a 5-0 mark. Stuckey had two carries for 15 yards as a senior and made 23 tackles, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery as a junior. He earned first-team All-Angelus League honors as a senior on offense. Also recruited by UC Davis, Army and San Jose State, Stuckey chose to continue his studies and football career at Cal Poly because of "its academic standards and my relationship with the coaches."


Wade Willet, OL, 6-5, 260,
   Brentwood, CA (De La Salle High School)

Willet anchored a De La Salle offensive line that helped the offense average 304.2 rushing yards per game last fall. The Spartans were 11-2 overall under head coach Justin Alumbaugh, including a CIF-North Coast Section Open Division championship and a runner-up finish in the California state high school's Open Division. A first-team all-Freelance League offensive lineman and second-team All-Bay Area Preps selection by the San Jose Mercury News, Willet helped open holes for 2,000-yard rusher Kairee Robinson. As a Junior, Willets played on the 13-1 Spartan team that claimed CIF-North Coast Section Division 1 and California state open division championships. Willet was recruited by Army, UC Davis, San Diego and Eastern Washington and was designated as a preferred walk-on at Cal, but decided on Cal Poly because "I fell in love with the atmosphere in the locker room and around the players while on my visit. The football program, quality education, weather and location were just unbeatable. I can't wait to become a Mustang!"


Myles Cecil, DE, 6-3, 227,
   Panorama City, CA (La Salle High School)

Among the 90 tackles (63 solo) earned by Cecil during his senior season at La Salle High School were 12.5 sacks and the defensive end also was credited with 22 quarterback hurries. He recovered a fumble and caused another, helping the Lancers of head coach Russell Gordon to a 7-5 overall record and into the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 9 playoffs. Cecil notched a season-high 14 tackles against Notre Dame Prep and added 11 versus Salesian. He was named Pasadena Sports Now Defensive Player of the Year as well as the Angelus League's most valuable lineman and earned the Defensive MVP award at the Blue-Grey All-American game at the Oakland Coliseum. Cecil made 35 tackles (20 solo) as a junior. After visiting Army, Air Force, UC Davis, Montana State, Northern Arizona and Hawai'i, Cecil elected to be a Mustang because of "the proximity to home, academics and my relationship with the coaches."


Nickolas Figueroa, DE, 6-4, 240,
   San Bernardino, CA (Cajon High School)

In his first and only football season, Figueroa made 86 tackles as a senior under head coach Nick Rogers at Cajon High School. He earned 12 sacks, 19 tackles for lost yardage, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, helping the Cowboys to a 7-4 overall mark, including a 5-2 record for third place in the Citrus Belt League and a berth in the Southern Section Division 4 playoffs. Figueroa, who also received offers from Hawai'i, Army, UTEP and UC Davis, was named to the All-Citrus Belt League first team on defense, was a team captain and was selected to play in the Inland Empire All-Star Classic. Figueroa did not play football as a junior, opting instead for baseball, and hit .323 with nine doubles, 26 RBI and a .419 on-base percentage. He chose to come to Cal Poly to play football "for the ideal location and the amazing educational opportunity."


Pouono "Pono" Faaagi, DL, 6-1, 250,
   Murrieta, CA (Vista Murrieta High School)

Under head coach David Olson at Vista Murrieta High School, Faaagi made 64 tackles (38 solo) during his senior season, including 16 tackles for lost yardage, seven sacks, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup and one interception. His season high for tackles was 10 against JSerra Catholic. He was named Nike's All-Poly Defensive MVP and landed on the All-Southwester second team. The Broncos were 9-3 last fall, finishing second in the Southwestern League and reaching the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. Faaagi collected 48 tackles (15 solo) as a junior with six sacks and 11 tackles for lost yardage en route to all-league honors. Faaagi also was named Cal Poly Football Camp defensive MVP last summer. After considering offers from UNLV, Army and San Jose State, Faaagi elected to come to Cal Poly because it is "a perfect fit with high academics and Division I football as well as the family atmosphere." Originally from Hawai'i, Faaagi has six siblings.


Stanton Manumaleuna, DL, 6-0, 280,
   Riverside, CA (Norte Vista High School)

Manumaleuna helped Norte Vista High School, under head coach Ken Batdorf, to an 11-3 record, the River Valley League championship and runner-up finish in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 playoffs. Manumaleuna notched 82 tackles (20 solo) as a senior, including 6.0 tackles for lost yardage, nine sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. He made 11 tackles against San Gorgonio and 10 more versus Patriot. Postseason honors include first-team All-River Valley League, All-CIF-Southern Section Division 7 and All-Riverside County. During his junior season, Manumaleuna made 25 tackles, including four sacks, and also notched four quarterback hurries and recovered one fumble. He also rushed 20 yards for a touchdown against La Sierra and earned first-team All-River Valley League and All-CIF-Southern Section Division 7 honors. Also recruited by UC Davis, Manumaleuna elected to come to Cal Poly because of "my relationship with the coaching staff and the family atmosphere."


Kain Su'a, DL, 6-0, 270,
   Moreno Valley, CA (Rancho Verde High School)

Su'a made 39 tackles, including 10 for lost yardage and 2.5 sacks, as a senior under head coach Jeff Steinberg at Rancho Verde High School last fall. He also forced two fumbles and was credited with a pair of quarterback hurries, helping the Mustangs to an 11-2 overall record, first-place finish in the Inland Valley League and a berth in the semifinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. Su'a was a team captain. Su'a earned second-team All-Inland Valley League honors and was selected to play in the Inland Empire All-Star Classic. Recruited by Cal Poly and Northern Colorado, Su'a elected to be a Mustang "because of the Learn by Doing motto and the connections I built with the coaches and players."


Mason Hurst, DB, 6-1, 190,
   Loomis, CA (Del Oro High School)

A quarterback, receiver, running back and safety, Hurst likely will be a defensive back at Cal Poly after making 223 career tackles (157 solo) and intercepting 14 passes under head coach Casey Taylor at Del Oro High School. His three-year varsity career totals include 159 catches for 2,863 yards (18.0 yards per catch) and 25 touchdowns, 162 yards passing (eight of 24, one touchdown), 200 yards on 29 rushes and two scores and the aforementioned 223 tackles. After leading Del Oro to a 13-3 mark, third-place Sierra Foothill League finish, CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship and California state Division 1-A runner-up finish during his senior season, Hurst was named All-Metro Player of the Year by the Sacramento Bee and Sierra Foothill League Defensive Player of the Year and landed on Max Prep's Large Schools All-State team. He caught 78 passes for 1,615 yards and 17 touchdowns (nine receptions vs. San Clemente and eight in three other games) and, on the other side of the ball, made 75 tackles (54 solo) with two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Postseason honors include Sierra Foothill League defensive MVP and first-team honors, CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section All-Purpose MVP accolade, All-Metro MVP, Sports Star Magazine NorCal MVP, Max Preps NorCal All-Purpose MVP, Prep2Prep Senior of the Year and first-team All-State by both Max Preps and CalHi. As a junior, Hurst caught 56 passes, seven for touchdowns, notched 94 tackles and intercepted nine passes, returning one for a touchdown. He had 24 catches and 57 tackles as a sophomore with three interceptions. Also in his career, Hurst returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown and a punt 48 yards for another score, both against Capital Christian. Hawai'i, UNLV, Nevada, Montana State and UC Davis recruited Hurst, but he chose Cal Poly because of its "trifecta for college Division I football, great academics and great location."


"Sharky" Reza, CB, 5-11, 190,
   Huntington Beach, CA (Edison High School/Orange Coast College)

Reza earned 34 total tackles (27 solo) and intercepted five passes, returning one for a touchdown, as a freshman under head coach Kevin Emerson at Orange Coast College. last fall. The Pirates were 3-7. Reza was a redshirt in 2015. He has three years of athletic eligibility remaining and, last fall, earned second-team all-league honors and was named team defensive backs MVP. His five interceptions were second most in the league and Reza also set a school record for most kicks blocked in a season with five. He is a 2015 graduate of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, where as a senior under Dave White, Reza made 43 tackles (31 solo), intercepted one pass and deflected seven others. Edison was 7-4 overall in 2014, finished second in the Sunset League and earned a spot in the CIF-Southern Section West Valley Division playoffs. Reza earned first-team All-Sunset League honors as a cornerback. His older brother Matt was a defensive back at Cal Poly in 2012 and 2013. Sharky chose to continue his education at Cal Poly because "I wanted to play quality, competitive football at the next level and my brother played there, which influenced me as well."


Patrick Walker, LB, 6-1, 220,
   Sacramento, CA (Franklin High School/American River College)

Walker (No. 43) made 60 tackles (29 solo), including two sacks, and recovered two fumbles as a sophomore under head coach John Osterhout at American River College last fall, helping the Beavers to a 10-3 record and a second-place finish in both the National Division of the Northern California Football Conference and the California Community College state playoffs. As a freshman, Walker notched 38 tackles (13 solo), including two sacks. Walker is a 2015 graduate of Franklin High School in Elk Grove, where in two varsity seasons he rushed for 289 yards, caught eight passes and made 45 total tackles, including 10.5 sacks. He also returned an interception 88 yards for a touchdown in his senior season and earned first-team All-Delta League honors as a defensive end. Franklin was 7-5 overall in 2014, finishing fourth in the Delta League and reaching the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. Walker also was a sprinter on the Wildcats' track and field team and played baseball as a freshman on the junior varsity team. He chose to attend Cal Poly "because it is a great school and a proper fit for me to be successful. I also love the environment that surrounds the school."


Fenton Will, LB, 6-0, 200,
   Santa Maria, CA (St. Joseph High School)

Will (No. 52) compiled 266 career tackles (128 solo) in three varsity seasons under head coach Dustin Davis at St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria. His career totals also included 26.5 tackles for lost yardage, 10.5 sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles. Will collected 95 tackles (51 solo) as a senior with 19.5 tackles for lost yardage and four sacks as a senior, leading the Knights to a 7-5 overall mark, second-place Los Padres League finish and a berth in the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs. He produced double-digit tackles in five games, including 12 against both San Luis Obispo and Pioneer Valley. Will was named the Los Padres League's Defensive Back of the Year, Lee Central Coast Newspapers All-Area Defensive Player of the Year and his team's Defensive player of the Year. As a junior, Will made 116 tackles (56 solo) with 4.5 tackles for lost yardage and four sacks. Among his six double-digit tackle games were 18 against Lompoc and 17 versus Paso Robles. He made 55 tackles (21 solo) as a sophomore, including 12 stops against Santa Maria. Will chose to continue his football career at Cal Poly because "it is a perfect fit with high academics and Division I football."