Cyrus Habibi-Likio: Blunt Force Trama at Running Back

Mike Kelly Talent Evaluation

The Oregon Ducks football team signed some terrific between-the-tackles running backs in the 2017 recruiting class and certainly Mountain View, California athlete Cyrus Habibi-Likio was one of them. According to MaxPreps, Habibi-Likio carried the ball 400 times for 2,343 yards and 23 touchdowns in four years at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio

He was ranked three stars (No. 25 in the Country at his position) by While ESPN rated him No. 87 and also awarded him three-star status. However, had a different opinion of him and classified him as an Athlete rather than a halfback and stated he was the overall 327th ranked player at any position and awarded him four stars.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio originally committed to Washington State University as a junior. He subsequently had second thoughts, and decommitted a few months later citing his desire to take “all of his officials (recruiting visits)”. Habibi-Likio visited the University of Oregon and committed to play football in late January 2017 over USC, California, Utah, Boise State. and nine other schools.


Cyrus Habibi-Likio has been widely reported as 6’1 tall and weighing 200 to 211 lbs. Based upon these numbers I’m guessing he is 98 percent of his eventual height and 90 percent of his eventual effective weight. At full development he is probably going to be 6’3-1/2″ and 232 lbs.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio

His speed in the 40-yard dash as been reported at 4.78 by ESPN at a combine and 4.50 to 4.57 by and, respectively. His SPARQ score of 82.32 is above average. For context, a SPARQ (Speed-power-agility-reaction-quickness) score of 100 is considered a great athlete, a score of 125 is considered elite, and a score over 130 is assumed to be “freak” territory with respect to athleticism.

I haven’t seen any information on hand size, though for kid of his size I’m guessing it’s 9-1/2″ or less (measured from thumb to pinkie finger).


Habibi-Likio is a well-built athlete that plays the running back position with violence that is unusual at this level. He combines nice size for the position with an impressive skill set.


In the video above Habibi-Likio initiates the contact at the goal line. His opponent is stunned from the collision.


Cyrus Habibi-Likio flashes the clock to finish the play. The kid’s pretty quick.

Jump Step

In the video above CH-L demonstrates a great “jump step” in the hole. This is talent – not coaching. You either have it or you don’t.

Spin and Balance

The ability to spin out of a would-be tacklers grasp is an acquired skill. Here in the videos above he demonstrates how it’s done with flair.


The great running backs have instincts and the athleticism to convert those instincts into a positive result when the intended play breaks down. Watch what CH-L does in the film clip above.


This guy is a physical football player as the two clips above demonstrate.

Glide Step

Watch him do a “glide step” to defeat the angles that the safety takes. This is something that the great Walter Payton made famous. Again, this isn’t coaching, it’s talent.


Cyrus Habibi-Likio has a nice combination of size and speed coupled with an impressive skill set as demonstrated above. He runs with a forward lean (behind his pads) and initiates contact. He runs with violence that leaves tacklers stunned in his wake. If he stays at his current height (or below 6’3) I think he would carry a solid third round grade in the NFL Draft.

Opponent Stunned after collision

If the projection stated previously holds true and he does get taller than 6’3 he may very well be advised to switch to safety where he could be borderline elite. Running backs and safeties possess similar triangle numbers and skill sets, just as wide receivers and cornerbacks share comparable traits. Where they differ is in height, typically. A running back should be shorter to present as small a target as possible to protect themselves. That’s why it’s rare to see a running back in the NFL over 6’3.

Some big strong safeties currently in the NFL are Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks, George Iioka  of the Cincinnati Bengals and Taylor Mays currently a free agent. These guys are all over 6’3 and there are a number of safety’s at 6’2 (too many to count) throughout the league. The point is that there is a distinct possibility that he could grow into a “tweener.” Too big for running back and too small for outside linebacker. But he could certainly fill a niche as a big safety patrolling the back end of a defense that strikes fear into a wide receiver coming over the middle, or a running back pounding the rock between the tackles because he is such a ferocious hitter.

Opponent Crushed at the Goal Line

In my opinion, he is the best all-around football player in a very good class. There are other players in this class that I would grade higher at one position, but guys that can excel at multiple positions grade higher because of their versatility. Cyrus Habibi-Likio will be a terrific running back at Oregon. A devastating, down-hill, in-your-face, masher and a fan favorite for generations to come. But I firmly believe that his future lies on the defensive side of the ball if he grows to his projected height.

Michael Kelly
Chico, California

Top Photo from Video

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