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July 10, 2011

Cornerback Asa Jackson Earns Preseason Honor From ESPN

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Asa Jackson has been placed on a list of the 10 best non-Football Bowl Subvdivision players in the country by ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman.

The Cal Poly cornerback is a three-time All-Great West Conference first-team selection and earned Great West Freshman Player of the Year honors in 2008.

"A four-year starter whose 4.40 40-time at Cal Poly's NFL Junior Day in the spring was the fastest time on the team, Jackson is one of those guys that makes you wonder how the bigger schools missed on him," wrote Feldman in his blog.

"He was an outstanding quarterback in high school at Christian Brothers High in Sacramento. He had legit speed, having qualified for the state in the 400-meter and 4x400-meter relay. Grades? He made the honor roll seven times. Background? Both of his parents are doctors and, according to his bio, he nurses abandoned and injured penguins back to health through the Arctic ASPCA," Feldman added.

"Umm, OK.

"He took a visit to Notre Dame and Georgetown, but both trips were for track. He reportedly thought about walking on at those schools for track before a Cal Poly assistant sold him on their football program. That's worked out pretty well for the Mustangs. His coach at Cal Poly, Tim Walsh, has told reporters that Jackson is the best cornerback he's ever had in 25 years. The 5-foot-11, 189-pounder is also a terrific punt returner, averaging almost 13 yards per return in 2010," Feldman wrote.

Jackson will start at cornerback for the fourth straight year this fall. He had 55 tackles (40 solo), two interceptions and nine pass breakups last fall and averaged 12.6 yards on 17 punt returns.

Among the others making the list were three players who will face the Mustangs this season -- Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorenson, Montana cornerback Tremaine Jackson and Eastern Washington quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

In other Mustang football notes:

• Cal Poly has been selected to win its fourth Great West Conference title by The Sports Network.

"In a potentially balanced race, Cal Poly seems to rate as a slight favorite over defending champ Southern Utah and UC Davis," writes The Sports Network FCS writer Craig Haley.

"But how about South Dakota, with its offensive weapons, putting it all together? The Coyotes won at the University of Minnesota, then finished only 4-7 overall and 1-3 in conference play. Chris Ganious will run behind All-America left tackle Tom Compton.

Defending FCS champion Eastern Washington and Montana State are the favorites in the Big Sky, according to Haley.

"Sacramento State, seeking its first playoff appearance, is capable of making waves this season and could be nationally ranked," Haley writes. "But if you want a true sleeper, take an extra long look at Portland State, which led the conference in rushing (203.3 ypg) and played hard for rookie head coach Nigel Burton last season. The Vikings (2-9, 1-7) must turn around some of the close losses to become a spoiler."

Cal Poly, which opens its 2011 season Sept. 3 at San Diego State, will compete in the Big Sky Conference starting in 2012.

• Slotback Mark Rodgers, already honored as one of 34 players on the College Football Performance Awards watch list for running backs, is one of 41 players on the watch list for kick returners as well.

Rodgers is second in Cal Poly's record book for both season and career with his 27.4 yards per kickoff return in 2010. He returned 33 kickoffs 904 yards, a school record, and his longest return was 65 yards.

Rodgers also rushed for 882 yards and eight touchdowns last fall, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and also caught 20 passes for 208 yards and three scores. He led the Mustangs in scoring with 66 points.

Rodgers earned third-team Associated Press All-American honors, first-team All-Great West Conference accolades and twice was named Great West offensive player of the week a year ago.

Cal Poly's training camp opens August 8.