By JOEL COLEMAN
Away from the football field, it’d be easy to overlook 5-foot-8, 165-pound Brandon Holloway. Only Mississippi State kicker Westin Graves at 163 pounds weighs less than Holloway on MSU’s training camp roster. No State player is documented as being shorter.
Opponents can disregard Holloway at their own risk though. This small Bulldog has an incredible bite once he’s on the gridiron.
“He is tough,” MSU wide receiver Fred Ross said of Holloway. “He can score anytime he touches the ball in multiple ways. You can hand it to him, throw it to him or kick it to him, but anytime he touches the ball he is a threat to go the distance. He is a great football player.”
These days, Holloway is a running back by trade. That wasn’t always the case. Holloway came to MSU in 2012. After redshirting in his first year on campus, he played wide receiver for the Bulldogs in 2013 in addition to handling some kick and punt return duties.
A year later, Holloway transitioned to running back in addition to continuing his special teams responsibilities. As he enters his senior season in 2016, Holloway seems to have mastered it all.
“I think one of the things that helps him is his versatility and that will help him in his future playing football beyond Mississippi State,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. “This spring, we had some injuries at the receiver position and we saw him shift out to receiver and be very functional out there. I think it makes him very hard to defend. The guy is a fifth-year senior who understands the offense and can actually play multiple positions.”
Only two FBS players returning in 2016 registered at least 400 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards and 500 kickoff return yards a season ago – Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Holloway.
Holloway prides himself on being able to do it all.
“That’s what I want to bring, whether it’s running back or wide receiver or wherever,” Holloway said. “I’ve been practicing a lot on catching and running the ball and doing different drills. I just want to be the person they can count on to make a play.”
Maybe Holloway’s most impressive trait is his selflessness. It’d be easy for a guy with so many talents to clamor for all the attention. That’s not Holloway’s style.
MSU boasts an impressive stable of running backs in 2016. Holloway isn’t campaigning for a bigger role than any of them. He’s hoping they all play a large part in reigniting the Bulldog running game a season after the squad scuffled on the ground.
“We have power backs like (Ashton) Shumpert and (Dontavian) Lee,” Holloway said. “Then we have guys with versatility like Aeris (Williams). He can do multiple things. Just working together makes it harder for people to defend us.
“I think we have a lot of great talent at running back so hopefully we can all play and get a lot of us touches.”
Holloway is unquestionably just the type of player a coach likes to have in his stable. He’s fast, athletic and is a team-first individual.
The funny thing is, with his small stature, you could walk right by him at the grocery store and likely have no idea you were standing next to one of the Southeastern Conference’s most dynamic players. On Saturdays though, there is no disputing that Holloway is on equal footing with the big boys.
“When we get the ball in his hands he is a very productive player,” Mullen said. “We can move him around and get a great player the football lot of different ways and that can be very difficult for defenses to match up with.”