By JOEL COLEMAN
With names like quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson around, it might be easy for Mississippi State running back Brandon Holloway to get lost in the shuffle as other teams prepare to face the Bulldogs.
Opponents beware. If you do forget about MSU’s 5-foot-8 speedster, he’ll be right by you and on his way towards the end zone quicker than a hiccup.
“He’s just a guy that you can get the ball to quick out of the backfield,” Prescott said of Holloway. “You can get it to him anyway really and if you give him some room and some space to fill he’s going to eat it up fast. He’s a fast player so we’ve got to get him the ball more.”
Holloway has begun to take a larger role within Mississippi State’s offense in recent weeks. When the season opened, the elusive Holloway was serving as a change-of-pace back to the power rushing style of starter Ashton Shumpert.
The last three games however, Holloway has served as MSU’s starting running back. Now in his fourth year with the Bulldogs after redshirting his true freshman season, the junior seems to be coming into his own.
“Brandon is a veteran player now and has been around,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. “He’s just a lot more comfortable out there on the field and expects to make the plays now within the system.”
So far this year, Holloway has proven to be MSU’s most productive running back. He’s run for 196 yards, almost 40 yards more than Shumpert’s 159.
In addition, Holloway has provided Prescott with an explosive receiving threat, catching 14 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Don’t forget him on special teams either. Against Southern Miss in the season opener, Holloway took a kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown.
“I like to show that I can be versatile on the field and help out my team in any way,” Holloway said.
It’s taken a lot of hard work for Holloway to develop into the more complete package he has become. In his first season as an active Bulldog in 2013, Holloway was used primarily as a receiver. After struggling with dropped passes, he was moved to running back prior to last season.
Now, with a year spent at both positions and a summer to refine his craft, Holloway feels he can impact any contest in multiple ways. A large part of that confidence came from working with Prescott and the other quarterbacks as he perfected his receiving game over the offseason.
“For me, it was just working more as a receiver in general,” Holloway said. “It wasn’t something I practiced much coming out of high school, but just coming out and working at receiver and seeing different balls from different people has helped me a lot.”
Holloway’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed by Prescott.
“He adjusts to the ball better,” Prescott said. “I think that’s what he means. He’s just more natural catching the ball.”
Perhaps the evolution of Holloway was never more apparent than in MSU’s 42-16 win over Kentucky last week. He ran for 36 yards and hauled in 98 yards and a touchdown through the air.
The scoring catch turned out to be one of the game’s biggest plays. With MSU up just 14-10 with less than two minutes to play until halftime, Prescott found Holloway on a wheel route in the corner of the end zone.
The catch gave the Bulldogs breathing room and exemplified the type of player that Holloway has become.
“As soon as I lined up, when we snapped the ball, I was just trying to see how (Kentucky) set up and if it was going to be more of a zone or man play,” Holloway recalled. “Once I saw them starting to back off, I knew that Dak would be looking my way first. He threw the ball and made a great throw. I just had to look up and make a good catch.”
It probably won’t be the last time Holloway makes an impactful play to help the Bulldogs. His work ethic and development seems to cement that. In the end though, Holloway says it’s not about him. Instead, it’s all about finding ways to wrap games in maroon and white.
“I just feel like I want to make the plays when they come my way,” Holloway said. “That’s what I try to do is just make the plays to help the team.”