Florida Commit Issiah Walker Provides a Self-Scouting Report
For Issiah Walker, everything is about technique as he prepares to take the next step in his football career.
The 6-4, 300 lb. offensive tackle out of Norland High School (Miami, FL) certainly packs the size, length, and athleticism into his game that college offensive line coaches drool over. Especially Florida's offensive line coach John Hevesy.
"Coach Hevesy loves how I’m athletic and my ability to bend, and my goal is to get stronger and quicker," Walker told GatorMaven.
Both of those abilities show up when you pop on Walker's HUDL film. But you don't need me to tell you that. After breaking down some of his tape with GatorMaven, Walker provided a self-scouting report in order for Gator fans to know what type of offensive lineman they're getting in the incoming freshman.
"My athleticism and bend are useful for me in run blocks, both let me be able to come low and hard," Walker described. "And in pass protection, bending keeps your pads from getting high so the rusher can’t push you around."
"To stop an inside move by an edge rusher, I step inside very quickly as soon as the ball is snapped, or I would punch him inside the shoulder to stop him."
Pad level is key at any offensive line position. Winning the pad level battle consists of both traits that Hevesy has told Walker he sees in him. It provides ideal leverage as rushers attempt to penetrate the line of scrimmage, something that Walker hasn't allowed to happen often in his high school career.
Paired with a low center of gravity, Walker anchors well when he lowers his pads and makes first contact with edge rushers. And from there, he drives out his blocks, taking them where he wants them to go.
When asked if there were any specific offensive linemen that Walker molded his game after, he didn't hesitate to name one of the best in the business: Tyron Smith, left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys.
"He's more of an idol to me," Walker said. "Watching Smith, I learned to stay more patient in pass blocks and my hand techniques."
Hand usage and technique is an important aspect of playing on the offensive line, and it's one that Walker prioritizes developing.
"[Hand usage is] very important," he continued. "You want to have control of the player when you punch inside the chest. At that point, you can take him wherever he wants to go."
"I have resistance bands and punch and swipe down at home for about five minutes at a time," Walker added.
When it comes to run blocking, Walker's size and athleticism gets the job done at the high school level fairly easily. It won't be that easy at Florida and in the SEC, but Walker's foundation should set him up for some success with more training and development.
"My biggest strengths as a run blocker is how quickly I come off the ball, and my hands," Walker said.
Walker often combo blocks in the run game, where kicks linemen out of the intended rushing gap before moving to the next level to drive out the linebacker to the play-side. His explosion off the ball is vital in winning the first aspect of the combo block, as he has to get his hands on two defenders in a matter of seconds and ensure stability on the front line.
"On combo blocks, I make sure my guard has full power over the defensive tackle," stated Walker. "And then I move up to second level."
Within those run blocks, Walker consistently plays through the whistle and drives through his blocks. Often, this will end up in a pancake block that leaves the defender in the dirt.
As for the rest of Walker's game, there are some really positive aspects and ones that he will continue to develop under Hevesy when he makes it to campus. A trait that goes both ways? Walker's length. His long arms, with further development in his hand usage, will only continue to polish his ability in pass protection.
"My length helps a lot, whenever I want to stop edge rushers from getting up the field I can just put my arm out and he is way outside the pocket," Walker exclaimed.
His length also makes swiping through arm extensions easy. When facing a defensive end who uses an arm-bar as he attempts to get into the backfield, Walker's length and violent hands have no issue swiping through the defenders locked out arms to delay the pass rush.
"When I get to Florida, I want to work being lighter on my feet," Walker said of his room to grow. "In college, there are a lot of great pass rushers. You can’t have heavy feet at left tackle."
For Walker, there aren't many coaches in the nation that are better at training blocking technique than Hevesy, which makes Florida an ideal location for the intriguing line prospect. With further polish and grooming within his game, Walker has the traits to become a dominant all-around blocker in the SEC. And his self-awareness as a prospect should make his commitment even more encouraging.