Cal Athletics

Signing Day Capsule: Cal signs running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh, model and grandson of Muhammad Ali

We get you familiarized with Cal's first signee of the 2017 class in Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman running back Biaggio Ali-Walsh.

http://www.scout.com/player/195044-biaggio-ali-walsh?s=166

The grandson of the great Muhammad Ali, and a close friend and mentee of former California running back Marshawn LynchBiaggio Ali-Walsh was the first letter through the fax machine on National Signing Day. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Ali-Walsh -- who only stands still long enough for a photo when he's modeling for the Wilhelmina Agency -- is one of the more dynamic running backs on the West Coast. His mom calls him her "Little Weirdo," and he has butterfly (left arm) and bee (right arm) tattoos in tribute to his grandfather’s famous quote “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Ali-Walsh is a hard, explosive runner who provides a stick of dynamite that can make things happen in open space.

“Biaggio is a talented and productive running back who put up huge numbers while playing for arguably the best high school football program in the nation at Bishop Gorman," said head coach Justin Wilcox. "He will enter Cal with a tremendous foundation for success both from the experience he gained in his high school program plus his family’s unmatchable athletic heritage.”

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.

The 2015 Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year 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. 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.

Walsh and Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman finished with their second straight national title. Despite missing significant time due to injury this season, Ali-Walsh led the Gaels on the ground, rushing 137 times for 1,462 yards (averaging 10.7 yards per carry and 121.8 yards per game), with 22 touchdowns, going for 100 yards or more in nine of the 12 games he played. He also caught two passes for 33 yards. He earned All-State, All-Southwest League and team Offensive MVP honors.

Combined to rush for career totals of 4508 yards and 65 touchdowns on the ground over 389 carries to average 11.5 yards. He's caught 11 balls for 181 yards and three scores. He's fumbled only twice, and lost one.

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BEYOND THE COMMITMENT: BIAGGIO ALI-WALSH

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