Cal Poly Signs Four Football Players in Inaugural Early Signing Period

Cal Poly Signs Four Football Players in Inaugural Early Signing Period

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- One transfer and three high school student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent or Financial Aid Tender during the inaugural Early Signing Period for Division I football. The announcement was made Wednesday by 10th-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 three defensive backs and one offensive lineman. The Early Signing Period, approved by the Collegiate Commissioners Association in May, is open for three days, Dec. 20-22, and was created, according to a story on SBNation.com, because "according to the NCAA, most prospects are far enough along in the recruiting cycle that they have their minds made up about where they want to attend.

"They are tired of incessant texts and calls and want to have some certainty about their college destinations shortly after the fall semesters of their senior years," the story by Bud Elliott adds.

The quartet of recruits hail from Folsom, Turlock, Bakersfield, Thousand Oaks and American Samoa.

"Obviously it's new to all of us," Walsh said of the early signing period. "At the FCS level, it will be interesting.

"We looked for four to eight guys that we definitely felt were Cal Poly Mustangs in every way, first and foremost as young men who strive to be great on the field and in the classroom," Walsh added. "After today, we will see all that is available as things will sort out league to league and level to level. So much work to do, but I feel good about what we have done so far."

The Midyear Community College Transfer Period also opened today and ends Jan. 15. The Regular Signing Period opens February 7 and ends April 1.

Cal Poly captured the Big Sky championship in their first season in the conference (2012), is 26-22 in its first six years in the Big Sky, has claimed five conference titles in the last 14 years, including four in the eight-year existence of the Great West Conference (2004-11), and earned its fourth NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth in 2016.

The Mustangs have won 61 of their last 83 home contests (73 percent) and, overall, Cal Poly has won 99 of its last 172 games (58 percent) going back to the 2002 finale.

This fall, senior fullback Jared Mohamed became the 14th Mustang to earn All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors after rushing for 1,172 yards and four touchdowns. The 21st Mustang to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in a single season rushed for more than 100 yards in a game seven times (eight for his career), including a career-high 194 yards in the Mustangs' lone win this year, a 35-28 decision against Portland State. A third-team All-American, Mohamed also had 97 yards against San Jose State and is 10th on Cal Poly's all-time single-season rushing list.

The signees (listed alphabetically):

Andrew Cokley, OL, 6-4, 265
Folsom, Calif. (Vista del Lago High School)

A starter on the offensive and defensive lines under head coach Mike Struebing at Vista del Lago High School in Folsom, Cokley recorded 41 tackles, including three sacks, during his senior season. On the offensive line, Cokley made 52 pancakes and did not allow a sack, The Eagles posted a 7-5 overall mark and finished second in the Capital Athletic League, reaching the quarterfinal round of the CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Cokley earned first-team All-Capital Athletic League honors and was named the league's lineman of the year. He also has been selected to play in the Sacramento Optimist All-Star Game and was named to the All-CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section team after helping Vista del Lago to the section's rushing title. As a junior, Cokley made 43 pancakes and gave up just one sack as an offensive lineman. He was a part of over 3,000 plays, was a three-year varsity starter and made 39 consecutive starts. Cokley is an avid fisherman and cook. Also recruited by Portland State, Cokley chose to be a Mustang "to earn one of the best degrees in the country and join a prolific option offense. And you can't really beat the area."

Dustin Grein, WR/S, 6-1, 205
Turlock, Calif. (Turlock High School)

Grein made 75 tackles (50 solo), including 8.5 for lost yardage and one sack, as a senior strong safety under head coach James Peterson at Turlock High School. Grein also intercepted four passes, including two against Merced, and returned two of the four thefts for touchdowns. His season high for tackles was 11, accomplished against both Clovis and Merced, and he also forced three fumbles. Grein also was a wide receiver on offense, making four catches for 110 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs were 8-3 this fall, including a perfect 6-0 mark for the Central California Conference title, and qualified for the CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. Grein was named Central California Conference MVP, was a first-team safety, earned team MVP honors and named a North/South All-Star. He also earned his league's all-academic honors for the third time with a grade-point average of 3.64. As a junior, Grein rushed for 377 yards and six touchdowns, caught 16 passes for 278 yards and three scores and made 37 tackles (25 solo), including 4.5 for lost yardage, and intercepted three passes en route to first-team all-league honors as a receiver and safety, He earned his team's Top Dawg award. Grein as a sophomore caught seven passes, two for touchdowns, and made 22 tackles (17 solo) and intercepted two passes on his way to first-team all-league honors as a receiver and second-team accolades as a safety. He also lettered in varsity football as a freshman and played baseball as a freshman and sophomore and competed in track and field as a junior with best marks of 22-6 in the long jump and 47-0 in the shot put. He has an official time of 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Also recruited by Sacramento State, UC Davis, Weber State, Northern Arizona, Wyoming and Azusa Pacific, Grein chose to be a Mustang because "I value the importance of a quality education and found Cal Poly has a great tradition of academics and building student-athletes. While walking on campus, I immediately fell in love with the campus atmosphere and could see myself living and attending classes at Cal Poly. During my visit at Cal Poly, I felt a strong bond with the coaching staff and players. The tight-knit campus near the beach with amazing weather is close enough that my family can continue to support me by being present at my games. Also, I feel strongly that I can contribute to the program early on and be successful on and off the field."

Kevin Howell, DB, 5-10, 185
Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Thousand Oaks High School/Nevada)

Howell was a redshirt in 2016 at Nevada and did not play in any games during the 2017 campaign. As a senior under head coach Mike Leibin at Thousand Oaks High School in 2015, Howell caught 87 passes for 1,631 yards and 23 touchdowns en route to first-team All-Camino League, All-Ventura County and all-state honors. He had 13 catches against Camarillo and 10 more against Agoura. Howell also made 57 total tackles, intercepted three passes and recovered one fumble on defense, earning co-defensive back of the year honors in the Camino League. Howell averaged 31 yards per kickoff return, scoring once on a 98-yard return against Canyon of Saugus. The Lancers were 11-3 and reached the finals of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. As a junior in 2014, Howell caught 72 passes for 932 yards and 11 scores, making 13 catches against San Juan Hills and 12 versus Atascadero. He also earned 33 tackles, including one sack, and intercepted five passes, earning first-team All-Camino League, All-Ventura County and All-CIF-Southern Section Northern Division honors. He also was named to the all-state juniors third team as a multipurpose player. Howell earned first-team all-Camino League honors as a sophomore (37 catches, 423 yards, eight TDs; 40 tackles, four interceptions, nine pass breakups), finished with four varsity letters and was a three-star recruit according to Scout.com. Also recruited out of high school by Nevada, New Mexico, Navy, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona and Montana, Howell chose to be a Mustang because it was "best for my athletic and academic goals."

Caden Ochoa, S, 5-11, 185
Bakersfield, Calif. (Bakersfield High School)

A quarterback and linebacker under head coach Paul Golla at Bakersfield High School, Ochoa directed the Drillers' pistol offense for two years and is the inaugural recipient of the Osbaldo Orozco Scholarship. As a senior, he passed for 553 yards and six touchdowns and ran 163 times for 778 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and scoring eight touchdowns. Against Liberty, Ochoa gained 199 yards on just 18 carries, scoring three touchdowns. On defense, Ochoa contributed 68 total tackles (30 solo), including four for lost yardage, along with two sacks, four forced fumbles, three interceptions, a pair of pass breakups and one fumble recovery. The Drillers were 6-6 this fall, finishing third in the Southwest Yosemite League and reaching the semifinal round of the CIF-Central Section Division 1 playoffs. Ochoa was named a first-team All-Southwest Yosemite League linebacker. As a junior in 2016, Ochoa passed for 502 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 498 yards on just 70 carries (7.1 yards per carry), scoring seven touchdowns. He rushed for a career-high 204 yards and three touchdowns against Centennial. On defense, Ochoa notched 54 tackles (12 solo), two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. He was named to the all-league first team as a quarterback, all-area second team as a defensive back and earned his team's leadership award. Also recruited by Nevada, Air Force and Azusa Pacific, Ochoa chose Cal Poly because "I was sold on the atmosphere. Also, the academics will better me for the future. I look forward to becoming a Mustang and I'm thankful to be a part of the amazing legacy."