Biaggio Ali-Walsh's grandfather Muhammad Ali was known for floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, and the grandson of The Greatest is certainly a young man who can rumble. But, it was a completely different rumble that first interested him in California, which offered the reigning Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year on Monday.
The date was Jan. 8, 2011. The place: Qwest Field, Seattle, Wash. The event: The Beast Quake, a 67-yard touchdown run by Cal alum Marshawn Lynch against the New Orleans Saints that set off a cheer so loud and so raucous, that a nearby Pacific Northwest Seismic Network station registered a tremor. The earth shook that day in Seattle, and its aftershocks traveled all the way to Nevada, where Ali-Walsh sat watching.
"I remember when I first saw my idol, Marshawn Lynch, and became a fan: When he played the Saints," Ali-Walsh said. "I was like, 'Woah, this dude's a beast,' and later, I found out his nickname was Beast Mode, so that's kind of weird, but since then, I've followed up on him, and I would be him in Madden a lot. His style of running, he just can't get taken down. It's like trying to tackle a pyramid -- you can't do it. The way he carries himself is pretty cool. It wasn't flashy, it wasn't cocky; it was more quiet. He's about action, not talk, and I like that."
Of course, Lynch is famously "just about that action."
"It pertains to me, a little, because I don't talk on the field, at all," Ali-Walsh said. "I like how he carries himself, because, in a way, that's similar to how I am. I don't talk. I don't know; I just run."
As soon as you turn on the tape, the balance, the acceleration, the burst through the holes, the physicality -- that's what does the talking. From the subtle, small moves at the line of scrimmage or the slight wiggle down field to make opponents miss, to spinning off of tackles and bouncing between defenders all while keeping his feet, it speaks volumes, at high volume, just maybe not as much as his grandfather -- who he just saw down at Ali's home in Arizona on Jan. 17, for his birthday, and with whom he recently spoke on FaceTime.
"We're the complete opposite, to be honest," he laughed. "I'm very close to him. Actually, yesterday (Sunday), we were FaceTiming him, and we talk all the time. My little brother's a boxer, and he gives him a lot of advice, and me advice, on staying humble, being focused on what's important, and what-not. Any time we get the chance to go out to Arizona, we'll visit him, and that's usually the reason why we're out there."
Ali-Walsh has an offer from Louisville -- his grandfather's hometown school -- but the offer from Cal was the one he'd really been waiting for.
"It was amazing, because I remember seeing them over at the [Bishop Gorman] facility, and I was hoping, like, 'Oh, man, that would be awesome if they offered. That'd be sick,'" said Ali-Walsh. After he was done with practice, that's exactly what Garret Chachere did.
"He told me that, for three weeks, he'd been trying to contact me, and I wondered why, because I'm always on my phone, twitter and what-not. He was like, 'I'm telling you that you have an offer,' and from a school like that, that's a big deal," he said. "That school's a big football school. Marshawn Lynch went to Cal, so that's pretty cool. I knew a lot about that school growing up. It's a California school, and I was always hoping that they'd offer, and they did, and it's pretty cool. I'll definitely be keeping in contact with him and building that relationship."
Though he hasn't made any plans to visit Cal, he does want to take a trip out, and, just maybe, bump in to Lynch
"Maybe he'll be there when I take an unofficial, and I can say 'What's up?'" said Ali-Walsh, who added that the offer definitely puts Cal among his top potential destinations.
"I didn't even know that both of them got offered," said Ali-Walsh, who has a 3.4 GPA. "I went up to Alex and I said, 'Hey, Cal offered,' and he said, 'Me too.' I don't know if they're big fans of Cal, but they do know, for sir, that that's a good school, and I told them that."
One thing he's learned is that the Bears, and new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, run many of the same sets as Gorman does, particularly the two-back offset formations.
"I like it, because they're going to be running, and I like their style; they're sticking to their tradition," Ali-Walsh said. "It's kind of similar to how we run it, sometimes."
Bishop Gorman football gives its players a two-week break in the summer, and that's when Ali-Walsh said he may wind up visiting Berkeley.