Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 89: Isi Sofele, No. 20, California, Running Back
At first blush, the 5'8" and 183-pound Sofele seems to be a knockoff of former Cal standout Jahvid Best, but he is far from that type of guy.
Sofele fits a lot more into the Cal tradition of Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Shane Vereen than he does in the Best mold.
While small in stature, Sofele is a complete back when it comes to running the ball. He hits the hole hard, explodes through arm tackles and is capable of slipping the seem to get loose in the back end.
He has a great jump cut, can start and stop quickly and the little man runs behinds his pads like backs that outweigh him by 20 pounds.
Watching the 5'8" back get into a linebackers chest and keep his legs driving is a tremendous thing.
While it would be easy to go with size, since the smallish running back does face legitimate impediments because of that reason, the real weakness in his game is his pass catching.
Six catches last season brought his career total to 14. In order to help make the Cal offense more effective, especially with the loss of Marvin Jones, Michael Calvin and Anthony Miller, Sofele has to insert himself into the passing game in a bigger way.
After a breakout 1,300-plus yard season, look for Sofele to build on that success. Keenan Allen is still the most critical threat on the Golden Bears roster; and as teams focus on the wide receiver, Sofele should benefit.
After being honorable mention All-Pac 12 a season ago, thanks to LaMichael James, Chris Polk, Stepfan Taylor and John White IV, there is a chance for Sofele to rise up the ranks. That being said, Kenjon Barner and Cameron Marshall will be pushing for those spots as well.
Look for Sofele to push for 1,500 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns as a complement to the Golden Bears passing attack.