CARSON, Calif. -- There is no doubt that Semper Fidelis All-American Lonny Powell is going to play running back next year for California, and not linebacker. He catches the ball out of the backfield better now than any of the current crop of Cal running backs, and he is more physical than anyone by maybe Daniel Lasco and Vic Enwere.
Powell is immensely physical, and refuses to go down. Even if you can't get him the ball in space, and he has to navigate traffic, he's shown that he has balance and lateral quickness of backs much smaller than him.
Powell had 43 all-purpose yards tonight on about 12 touches, but that was with very poor blocking ahead of him, and a stable of quarterbacks who threw four picks and were constitutionally unable to find him wide open on screens. There were at least four instances where Powell didn't have anybody within 10 yards of him out of the backfield, and he wasn't looked at once.
We've seen all week how good a pass catcher Powell is out of the backfield, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in that role at some point next season for Cal, though we didn't really get to see much of that in the game (he had one catch for 11 yards).
Powell is a bit of a more complete back -- with more side-to-side wiggle than Khalfani Muhammad -- so I wouldn't be surprised to see the sophomore-to-be shift to the slot at times and allow more snaps at running back by Powell, either. Having both of them gives the Bear Raid offense more weapons to get the ball to in space.
Another thing we didn't really get to see on full display in the game itself was Powell's speed. At least those at home weren't able to see it. He is a very sound route-runner, and sneaky-fast. Because of his physicality, you don't expect a lot of burst, but he's shown it all week in practice, and I'm excited to see him hit a hole behind a college offensive line.
The hidden aspect of Powell's game is special teams. He's an elite blocker, and uses his physicality and a bit of a nasty streak to really create running lanes. He plays until the whistle, and even if he never takes a kick back, he'll help make a huge difference in the third phase of the game.