(Melquise Stovall will be participating in the Army All American Game today. You can watch it on NBC at 10 am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern)
Cal gang pic.twitter.com/hU0rndqmeI— Melquise Stovall (@Melstovall11) December 21, 2015
We've landed a four star running back! All-purpose back, Melquise Stovall recently committed to Cal and after watching his tape, I'm tempted to think that Cal football can finally have good things. Here are his rankings according to the major recruiting services.
Rivals: 4 stars, 3rd at his position, 26th in his state
24/7 Scout: 4 stars, 4th at his position, 26th in his state
ESPN: 4 stars, 13th at his position, 29th in his state, 234th in ESPN 300
While Stovall's 4.57-second 40 and 5'8" 177lbs build is nothing out of this world, his agility, balance, and field vision has been turning a lot of heads, including those of Notre Dame and most of the Pac-12. He takes reps all over the field including defense and special teams but showcases the full range of his talent and skill in the back and slot receiver positions. Let's go through the tape.
- At 0:35 Stovall receives a handoff and is immediately met by the opposing defensive line. He takes the route the opposite direction and turns the corner, utilizing his blocks well to turn the corner. He makes a great double move to beat the safety and score.
- The play starting at 0:49 is full of highlights. Once again he turns a broken play into a touchdown, quickly changing directions after his initial lane is closed. He makes a quick and well-timed spin move, plants his foot, and accelerates at a break neck pace. That kind of agility paired with an explosive first step really separates him from his competition, literally and figuratively.
- He's not only fast, but also strong and a well-balanced runner. At 1:11 he catches a pass off a post route then proceeds to break a tackle and beat the rest of the secondary to the end zone.
- The play at 2:27 is just incredible. He exhibits amazing balance and awareness as he sheds 5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and once again takes the ball the other way to score an easy 70-yard touchdown.
- The punt return at 3:24 is impressive to say the least, but towards the end we get a great shot of some fancy delay footwork that he immediately turns into a quick jab cut inside for the easy score. We see some more great footwork at 3:49 when he showcases two fantastic step back jukes, bumping outward each time while again displaying poise and deadly acceleration.
- He has good hands as a back, often lining up at wide receiver and slot. He pulls down a high grab in stride at 4:05 and does the same in the play directly following. His speed and balance make him a difficult mark to defend and tackle, evident at 4:52 when he rumbles along for close to 15 yards after the catch.
- At 4:18 watch his feet very closely. His footwork makes me think of a professional boxer's. His legs are constantly moving and he possesses a brilliant ability to switch up his rhythm, instantaneously turning a long stride into a triplet of quick steps, giving him enough force to break the last tackle and earn a photo finish over the goal line.
- The three plays beginning at 7:41 give us a good look at his ability on the goal line. We already know he has enough speed and quickness to beat defenders to the pylon, but what is impressive here is his quick decision-making and ability to accelerate into the open lanes. This is evident in the third play especially when he breaks vertically for the goal line on his second step after the hand off.
- Unfortunately we don't get any insight into his ability to block in the backfield in pass protection, but we do get a look at one block downfield at 8:30 when he lines up at wide out. While a defensive holding call could be made on the corner he blocks, Stovall does a great job of driving his feet and keeping the block compact in the chest of the defender.
- Beginning at 8:41 we see several of his defensive highlights. Nearly all of the skills mentioned above are applicable on defense, particularly his field vision and acceleration. He is essentially a 180lb projectile and breaks on the ball carrier like a bullet. He's no Ray Lewis and usually settles with leg tackles, but it's hard for ball carriers to avoid him when he closes that quickly.
- He also has the toolkit of a great punt returner. At 12:21 he puts on a staggering display of quickness and balance as he breaks 6 tackles before being forced out of bounds by the seventh.
- In summary, Stovall is a fantastic back. He possesses quick feet and balance, making him a difficult guy to tackle. We didn't see too many open-field tackling situations but I'm positive that he's used to snapping ankles left and right. He has solid hands, making him a viable passing target and can probably be devastating on flat routes out of the backfield. In my opinion his greatest weapon is his jaw-dropping acceleration. He hits his top speed like an Italian sports car, leaving defenders in the dust, sticking sharp turns, and stopping on a dime. It speaks volumes to the strength of his legs and feet, which he uses as oars to fire forward. He can quickly recognize openings in the defense and is also quick to act when there aren't any holes. The Reggie Bush resemblance is strong in that regard. It definitely wouldn't hurt for him to bulk up a little bit, but I have no doubt that a few months of Division I strength and conditioning will make him an even more explosive runner. I would've liked to see some tape on his backfield blocking, but that might be nitpicking at this point. All in all, we've gained another strong piece in a steadily deepening group of backs and I can't wait. Welcome to the Cal family Melquise, and Go Bears!