Many college football stars have parents that pushed them to make the most of their natural ability, with the hope they would become athletic stars while gaining their college degree. Sofele’s father, HuiHui, was no different. He emigrated from Tonga as a teenager and was an excellent athlete as a young man, but family obligations kept him from reaching the dream of going to college – something he swore would not happen to his children. The work ethic and natural athletic ability he provided Isi (and his seven siblings) paid off with a college scholarship – and could also help him become at least a valued rotational back, if not a starter, in the NFL.
Sofele (pronounced so-fell-AY, first name EE-see) ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns as a high school senior just south of Salt Lake City, Utah. He played all 13 games as a true freshman, starting the final two but primarily acting as a kick returner in those games (12-82, TD rushing; 12-248 KR). He saw his carries increase in his sophomore year (69-338 rushing; 5-28, 2 TD receiving) before garnering honorable mention All-Pac-12 as a 13-game starter in 2011 (252-1,322, 10 TD).
Compactly-built back who runs tough for his size. Works hard between the tackles, often falls forward. Presses the line, attacks an open lane or makes decisive cuts to kick outside or head upfield. Spins out of tackles in the backfield and downfield, shows good balance to stay upright after contact. Finishes runs, extends his arm to hold off or shake off high tackle attempts. Will lower his shoulder to get extra yards on the sideline instead of running out of bounds. Gives effort in pass pro, throws shoulder into a double-team, stands up to defenders with a solid base and will finish the play.
Not elite in any area of his game. Lacks great lower-body strength to explode out of cuts, push the pile, or bull through strong tackle attempts. Does not possess an elite burst through the hole or a second gear in the open field to take away angles. Ball security has been an issue, fumbled eight times in 2011. Not used out of the backfield often, must prove he has the hands to be a factor there. Lacks the anchor to hold up against strong pass rushers in pass protection.
The son of a Tongan emigrant inherited his father’s work ethic and athleticism, much to the delight of scouts and chagrin of opposing defenses. He stepped up into a starting role in 2011 (1,322 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns), getting lost behind lineman because of his short build and running through tackles with toughness, nice balance, and a bit of quickness. Sofele could be a late-round pick if looking quick and decisive, while improving his ball security (eight fumbles in 2011).
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.