The Beau Baldwin era at Cal Poly already has 13 new football players coming on board.
And they’ve committed to the Mustangs just days after Baldwin was hired.
The Mustangs received a baker's dozen National Letters of Intent on Wednesday during the NCAA’s Early Signing Period.
It was just last Wednesday when the school announced the former Eastern Washington head coach and ex-Cal offensive coordinator Baldwin as the newest head coach.
Now, he’s got his first set of 2020 commits – in not even 10 days. And he received an assist from the likes of assistants Aristotle Thompson, Wes Nurse and James Jones on the Mustang staff who helped lure some Mustangs into the program.
Here’s a look at the early 2020 class for the Mustangs, with some sharing why Cal Poly was the right fit:
Beau Baldwin, Cal Poly's new football coach after Tim Walsh was at the helm for 11 seasons, has energized the Mustangs heading into the early …
Kyle Christensen, Center
The Placer Hillmen center was one of the early commits for Cal Poly, verbally committing to the Mustangs on Oct. 19.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder originally was on board to play for Tim Walsh. However, the veteran head coach retired immediately following the Mustangs’ 3-8 season.
Yet, Christensen never wavered from his decision to head to the Mustangs.
“For a while, I didn’t know who the new head coach will be. But he’s a classy dude and a high character guy. I have no concerns about the head coaching aspect,” Christensen said by phone.
And, he’s got the opportunity to rebuild the Mustangs with the newcomer at head coach.
“It’s neat to be going into a new chapter of Cal Poly together and seeing it grow,” Christensen said. “Something that coach Baldwin told me on my official is that ‘You’ve been committed here longer than I have.’”
Christensen guided the Hillmen to a 10-3 mark including a perfect record in the Foothill Valley League. The run heavy Hillmen averaged 292 yards through the running game and scored 47 rushing touchdowns according to Max Preps, with Christensen clearing running lanes.
Christensen will head to Cal Poly as a business major.
John Smolenski, Defensive lineman
Smolenski decided Cal Poly was the school for him and committed after his official visit on Dec. 14 and right before the early signing deadline.
Smolenski immediately saw Baldwin’s enthusiasm for wanting to turn around the Mustangs, springing his decision to commit.
“Coach Baldwin had this contagious energy about him from the first moment we spoke,” Smolenski said. “He was very optimistic and confident about the short-term and long-term future of the Cal Poly program. But most importantly he just seemed like a genuinely good guy.”
Mustang defensive line coach Jones offered Smolenski. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder collected 69 tackles including four behind the line of scrimmage according to Max Preps. He helped spearhead a Phelan Serrano Diamondback defense that surrendered fewer than 20 points in 11 games this past season.
Smolenski guided Serrano to a 12-1 mark. He’s invested in bringing a winning attitude back to Poly with Baldwin in charge.
“Bringing back a winning culture at Cal Poly is one of the most important things to me,” Smolenski said. “I’ve been so blessed to be taken into the program that I feel like pushing myself every day to do my part in making the team better is my main responsibility.”
He intends to major in Kinesiology.
Michael Briscoe, Defensive back
Nurse dipped into the Bay Area to land this 6-foot-2, 185-pound cornerback from Vacaville.
Briscoe was a 3.83 student while averaging 32.3 yards a catch and snatching two interceptions.
But, with Nurse as his primary recruiter, Briscoe is likely lining up on defense.
Briscoe was offered on Nov. 6 by Cal Poly. He was formally announced as a new Mustang on Wednesday.
He’s coming to San Luis Obispo as the reigning Monticello Empire League Back of the Year.
Trevor Owens, Defensive back
Like Briscoe, the junior college product Owens is expected to add some height to the defensive perimeter.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Butte College standout showed closing speed and was rarely tested on his side during Butte's 8-3 campaign. He went on to tally 28 tackles, 15 solo stops and two interceptions.
The first-team All-National Northern California Conference selection was offered by Big Sky rival Sacramento State before signing with Cal Poly.
Jeremy Justice II, Defensive back
Staying with the theme of tall defensive backs, Justice is a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder expected to lock down his side of the field.
Justice doubled as a deep threat wide receiver and hard-nosed hitter on defense for Apple Valley High in the Mojave Desert. The strong safety and wideout snatched up 32 solo tackles and six stops behind the line of scrimmage for the Sun Devils, who went 9-2 this past season.
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Justice is anticipated to play strong safety for the Mustangs. He made his verbal commitment to Cal Poly on Dec. 15 before signing the papers.
He’s also reuniting with his Kindergarten buddy Smolenski at Cal Poly.
Jacob Oliphant, Defensive back
Oliphant was utilized in a variety of roles at Danville Monte Vista in the Bay – playing wide receiver, cornerback and returning punts and kicks.
He’s likely to play cornerback, though, as his chief recruiter was cornerbacks coach Nurse, who offered Oliphant in July.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder returned a pick-six 100 yards to the end zone this past season. Offensively, Oliphant caught 47 passes for 560 yards and scored four times according to Max Preps.
Off the field, Oliphant is a 3.5 GPA student.
Julian Reed, Defensive back
The 6-foot, 170-pound Reed was one of two signings from the junior college realm.
He snatched two interceptions for an American River College pass defense that tallied 12 interceptions.
Reed was offered by the Mustangs’ Big Sky rival UC Davis and was also courted by Southern Utah. Nurse was the main man recruiting Reed to the Mustangs.
Outside of football, he additionally has a track and field background and reportedly ran the 400-meter dash in 53.4 seconds while at Grant High School in Sacramento.
Kyrie Wilson, Receiver
Wilson is a local standout who his head coach Mike Moon called a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) caliber player.
On a loaded Pacifica Tritons team that featured Arizona State linebacker commit Caleb McCullough and Fresno State running back commit Malik Sherrod, it was Wilson who led PHS with 37 catches, 755 yards and nine touchdowns according to Max Preps.
Defensively, the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder snatched three interceptions for a defense that collected as astonishing 30 picks.
Wilson has been bombarded with praise and congratulations with the rest of his Triton teammates; from his team being given the keys to the city of Oxnard to the school holding a huge celebration following Pacifica’s historic state title run. The Tritons are the first Ventura County public school to capture a CIF state football title.
David Meyer, Linebacker
The Mustangs dove into an Orange County powerhouse to land this recruiting steal at linebacker.
Meyer was the Diablos’ top tackler (103 stops), added to their pass rush (six) and tied for the team lead in tackles-for-loss (17) – and he collected tackles and sacks going up against state powerhouses Stockton St. Mary’s, Upland, Capistrano Valley and Santa Ana Mater Dei.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Meyer wasn’t the most heavily sought after prospect on the Diablo roster either (Cal Poly was his lone offer) and it’s a school known for producing Pac-12 talent.
Jamarri Jackson, Defensive back
Jackson was the first signee for Cal Poly’s early 2020 class.
And, he played for a Big Sky rival: Northern Arizona.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound safety comes over after spending 2018 at NAU. He was previously at College of San Mateo prior to becoming a Lumberjack.
Austin Anderson, Offensive line
Anderson verbally committed to Cal Poly during the weekend of Dec. 14.
While the 6-foot-5, 250-pound trench standout from San Ramon California High brought length and pass rushing prowess to Cal High, he’s being recruited as a potential blind side protector for the offensive line.
As a left tackle, Anderson flattened weakside rushers on running plays and spearheaded a Grizzly offense that averaged 142.1 yards a game on the ground.
Anderson’s other offer was from the University of San Diego. He additionally has a lacrosse background.
Ryan Hannoun, Offensive lineman
The Lancaster Paraclete left tackle turned down some Big Sky rivals to become a Mustang.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder was getting courted by Sacramento State, Weber State, NAU and Montana State to become a Mustang – announcing his commitment during the weekend of Dec. 14.
Hannoun suited up for the Spirits for three varsity seasons. He was also on the 2017 Spirits team that eliminated St. Joseph in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.
Jackson Pavitt, Quarterback
The Mustangs added a quarterback late Wednesday night with Pavitt.
At Cardinal Newman High School, Pavitt passed for over 5,200 yards and 60 touchdowns in his last two varsity seasons, leading the Cardinals to the CIF North Coast Section Division 3 co-championship in 2018 and CIF-NCS Division 4 title and state 3-AA crown this fall.
Cardinal Newman went 14-1 this season and 11-1 in 2018. During his senior season, Pavitt completed 200 of 292 passes for 2,750 yards and 30 touchdowns while also rushing for 744 yards on 148 carries, scoring 11 times. The three-star prospect, according to 247Sports, was intercepted just twice.
Jeremy Justice II | DB
Hometown: Apple Valley
School: Apple Valley
Offers of note: n/a
Justice is a long athlete that played both receiver and DB at Apple Valley High. With his size, he projects to be more of a safety at the FCS level. Listed at 6-foot-3.
Big play receiver at Apple Valley, averaging over 20 yards per catch in his career with eight touchdowns. Made 94 total tackles as a prep senior.
Kyle Christensen | OL
Position: OL (G/C)
Hometown: Auburn, CA
Offers of note: Nevada, Oregon State, UC Davis, San Diego
Christensen verbally committed to Cal Poly in October, choosing the Mustangs over FBS schools like Nevada and Oregon State and fellow Big Sky programs like UC Davis.
He's a 6-foot-4, 260-pound offensive lineman from Placer High in Auburn that is better suited at one of the interior spots on the O-line. Christensen appeared the be a perfect fit for the triple-option offense. He's a road grater on the interior where he was utilized in Placer's wing-T offense.
He's a long athlete, though he does use leverage and has plenty of strength for a high school athlete and a good frame that should fill out at Cal Poly.
Christensen went on his official visit to Cal Poly on the weekend of Dec. 14 and signed on Dec. 18.
Kyrie Wilson | WR
Offers of note: Cal Poly
Wilson announced that he landed his offer from Cal Poly on June 28, an offer that came from the Tim Walsh coaching staff.
Wilson announced his commitment to Beau Baldwin's coaching staff on Tuesday.
It's easy to see why Wilson didn't hesitate to commit to Cal Poly.
As a wide receiver, Wilson is a much better fit for Baldwin's modern multiple-set offense than in the previous regime's triple-option scheme.
Wilson is a 6-foot wideout who just wrapped up his prep career at Oxnard Pacifica.
Wilson is a two-star recruit according 247 Sports.
The former Pacifica wideout is coming off a CIF State championship with the Tritons. He caught a touchdown pass and two interceptions in Pacifica's win in the state title game win over Oakland McClymonds.
Michael Briscoe | DB
School: Vacaville High
Offers of note: None.
Another long DB who played reciever in high school. Briscoe intercepted eight passes over the final two years of high school. Had 742 receiving yards as a senior at Vacaville.
Jacob Oliphant | DB
School: Monte Vista High
Offers of note: Air Force, Cal Poly.
Oliphant is one of Cal Poly's highest rated recruits of the 2020 class, though was a bit undervalued due to being undersized. Oliphant signed as a DB but is an athlete that can play multiple positions.
Oliphant ran a 4.38 laser-timed 40-yard dash in a camp. He had 570 receiving yards last season and will likely be employed as a punt and kick returner at Cal Poly. Had two interceptions over the final two seasons at Monte Vista.
David Meyer | LB
Hometown: Mission Viejo
School: Mission Viejo
Offers of note: None
The Mustangs add another three-star recruit to the defense. Meyer played some of the stiffest competition in the state and nation as a linebacker at Mission Viejo. Meyer was perhaps the top defender on the Diablos, leading the team with 103 total tackles, 62 of which were solo. He also had 17 TFLs and six sacks.
Don't be surprised if Meyer leads the Cal Poly defense in a year or two.
Julian Reed | DB
School: Grant High/American River JC
Offers of note: None.
Reed used up his freshman year of eligibility at American River College and made 11 tackles while intercepting two passes there. He should have three years of eligibility with the Mustangs.
Reed has average size but plus athleticism. He spent three years on the varsity level at Grant High in Sacramento, intercepting seven passes during that time.
Trevor Owens | DB
School: Pleasant Valley High/Butte College
Offers of note: None.
Owens spent two seasons at Butte College and was a solid contributor on the Roadrunner defense. Last season he made 28 tackles and picked off a pair of passes.
Cal Poly went heavy on defense in this recruiting class and Owens should be another experienced contributor to the secondary in 2020.
Jamarri Jackson | DB
School: Northern Arizona/College of San Mateo/Christian Brothers
Ratings: ** (In high school)
Offers of note: Cal Poly
Spent one season at Northern Arizona and one year at the College of San Mateo. Another NorCal DB commit.
Was a stud at San Mateo where he registered 44 tackles and six picks with one touchdown return in 12 games played in his only year with the program. He was named a First Team All-American.
Had 11 tackles and three pass break-ups at NAU in 2018. Should be eligible immediately after not playing in 2019.
John Smolenski | DL
School: Serrano High
Offers of note: N/A.
Smolenski has loads of potential and tools. He's a 6-foot-5 defensive lineman from Serrano High. Played on the edge mostly as a prepster, but does need to fill out and add some strength to compete at the Big Sky level.
It may take some time for Smolenski to break into the defensive line rotation for Cal Poly, but, again, the potential is there. Smolenski may redshirt, play special teams and then try to make an impact as an upperclassman.
Austin Anderson | OL
Hometown: San Ramon
School: Cal High
Offers of note: Cal Poly, San Diego
Anderson is an athletic lineman that can play a number of positions and appears adept at run blocking, pulling as a guard and playing some tackle. He's a strong kid that can already bench over 300 pounds and squat 400.
Anderson is another lineman from up north, coming to Cal Poly from San Ramon Cal High