Hometown: Cleveland, OH
High School: Shaker Heights
Marshall Thundering Herd
Ali is a dynamic playmaker who runs with above-average burst, footwork, patience, and lateral agility, but he lacks the elite traits NFL teams look for in top 100 selections.
The biggest concerns about Ali surround his work in pass protection and ball security. Six fumbles in one year (2021) won’t cut it at the next level. Ali is also guilty of being too patient at times and taking tackles for significant losses when he needs to just cut upfield and take as many yards as he can get. On the positive side, Ali displays lateral bounce to survey multiple gaps and tremendous footwork that leads to some really clean cuts. He’s patient with his blockers and has the burst to shoot through rushing lanes once they open. Despite his average frame, Ali isn’t shy about finishing through contact and making sure he falls forward. The redshirt sophomore doesn’t have elite burst or speed, but they’re both above average and give defenses trouble. Ali is a dynamic offensive weapon who displays excellent polish, patience, and footwork. He’ll need to diversify his route tree to secure a role on third downs at the next level. Ali’s frame could become a hindrance for his draft stock unless he adds some more muscle. However, he offers an exciting upside as a pure runner with only one year of starting experience. Ali ranked among the top 15 running backs in the FBS last season in forced missed tackles and rushing yards after contact.
Ali was a two-star recruit from Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio in the class of 2019. He didn’t receive a national rank from the 247Sports Composite board, but the website ranked him No. 273 at the running back position and No. 141 among recruits from Ohio. Ali didn’t receive a national rank or star rank from Rivals, On3.com, or ESPN. He also played basketball at Shaker Heights. Ali redshirted in 2019 and worked in a reserve role in 2020, retaining his freshman status because of the pandemic season. He earned multiple accolades this past season, including 2021 First-Team All-Conference USA, 2021 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team (All-Purpose), and The Athletic’s 2021 First-Team Freshman All-America Team (All-Purpose).