California running back commit Biaggio Ali-Walsh, who has signed a modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models in Los Angeles, is more than just a pretty face. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Ali-Walsh is one of the more dynamic running backs on the West Coast, and put into Jake Spavital's offense, provides a stick of dynamite that can make things happen in open space.
We see a bit of that open-space ability in his highlight tape, when he catches the ball out of the backfield. Last season, he caught nine balls for 181 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with his 33 rushing touchdowns and 2,451 rushing yards. As a sophomore, Ali-Walsh carried the ball 49 times for 595 yards and 10 touchdowns. In two years, he has one fumble.
With a 4.41 40-yard time, Ali-Walsh's speed is his best weapon, but he's not a one-trick back. What sets Ali-Walsh apart from other speed backs is his balance and acceleration. He already hits holes like a much bigger back, but down field, he finds another gear. Beyond straight-line speed, he's also quick in and out of cuts, showing a blink-and-you-miss-it change of direction, even while going at top speed. That lateral quickness and explosiveness is unusual for a back with his straight-ahead speed.
He doesn't have a lot of wasted movement in his running style, either, making subtle shifts and moves to find a way around contact, or to minimize it. What sticks out about his ability to avoid contact is his flexibility, and, again, his balance. He can shift his hips, angle his upper body, or adjust his stride mid-stream, and he's got a hellacious hesitation move that he shows off at 4:06 in his highlight tape, twice on one run.
That said, he's not afraid to deliver a stiff-arm, or just lower the shoulder and power through a would-be tackler, or bounce and spin off of a defender to gain yards. At about 1:58 in his junior season highlights, he takes a massive hit from a linebacker at the five-yard line, and could just flop into the end zone, based on momentum alone, but instead, he keeps his feet. What you look for in running backs on tape -- beyond speed and maneuverability -- is that they don't get taken down by arm tackles. Ali-Walsh doesn't get taken down by full-on shoulders to the hips from linebackers at full speed.
All that tells you one big thing -- he's got an incredibly strong lower body. What you don't normally see in any running back tape is highlights of blocking, but it's there for Ali-Walsh. That alone is impressive, but the fact that he takes on a defensive tackle that has a foot and easily 120 pounds on him -- twice -- shows you what kind of guts he has.
The one concern that I have at this point with Ali-Walsh is his ability to put on size. Gorman has better facilities than most junior colleges in the country, and he's already very physically mature. The question I have is: How much more muscle can you put on him? Have the Gaels already maxed out his frame?
That may be a completely moot point. He may be at the perfect running weight right now, and any additional muscle may cost him speed. It's the same argument I heard against Dylan Wynn (think of Gorman as Nevada's De La Salle), and he wound up in the NFL.