The Gophers are continuing to add future defensive back talent to the roster.
Three-star Mississippi cornerback Justin Walley committed to Minnesota on Sunday. Walley chose the Gophers over offers from Baylor, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and others. He joins four-star defensive backs Avante Dickerson and Steven Ortiz Jr. in the program’s 2021 class.
Walley, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound cornerback, accumulated seven pass breakups, seven forced fumbles and an interception in 2019. He brings playmaking ability, physicality, versatility and upside to the Gophers’ depth chart.
His athleticism was used in a variety of different ways, including at wide receiver and running back. Out of the option-style system, he accelerated to the edge and displayed excellent contact balance. Walley also made several dynamic plays while returning punts.
In the secondary, Walley’s physicality jumps out on film. When he aligned around the box, he was a reliable tackler. He also displayed the range needed to run down plays at multiple levels of the field. There were several reps where Walley made difficult stops in space.
When Walley was playing off coverage or working in the backend, he showed the ability to break on the football and get into passing lanes. There were several reps where he was in zone and reacted quickly to make a play. Based upon his skills, I believe there is a possibility he could align at all of the defensive back positions, including safety and nickel cornerback.
Walley has a knack for making plays and was particularly disruptive on special teams. In this role, he frequently used his athleticism to block punts and kicks.
We don’t have any testing metrics for Walley, but his speed and agility are apparent on film. He also ran a 11.55 100-meter and 24.55 200-meter for the track and field team. Walley is an excellent athlete who could provide versatility in the Gophers’ secondary.
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Here’s a look at Walley’s junior year film: