Over the next several weeks here on the HailState Beat, we’ll be running a new football-related series each week, a series of series, if you will. We continue this week with The Freshman 15: counting the 15 (or so) ways the 2012 freshman class could impact the season.
Today in The Freshman 15: Brandon Holloway and special teams
Mississippi State has come a long way since Dan Mullen’s first year on campus when he not only played a significant portion of his true freshmen, he depended on them, particularly guys like Chad Bumphis and Johnthan Banks.
Now, with depth and talent at most positions, freshmen seeing the field is no longer a necessity. It’s not even a regularity. Rather than being forced into action, first-year players have to prove their worth and ability to earn playing time.
But there are still a few spots where MSU’s needs line up with fresh new talent on campus.
Brandon Holloway has the potential to fill at least two of those needs, and he may even be able to add a little extra on top.
Listed at 5’7” and 165 pounds, the Tampa native is smaller than most kickers in the SEC, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in speed. As a junior in high school in 2011, Holloway ran a listed 10.54 second 100-meter sprint, though he was unable to run his senior season after being sidelined by hamstring strain.
He was used primarily as a runner and receiver in high school, but the speedy Holloway, who will run on the track team at MSU, too, will be able to use his quicks in college on special teams, specifically as a kick and punt returner.
His senior year of high school, Holloway returned five kickoffs for a total of 187 yards and one touchdown, including returns of 70 yards and 75 yards against other Tampa high schools.
On offense, Holloway rushed 131 times for 907 yards and 10 touchdowns, as well catching 18 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns.
All told, Holloway was responsible for eight plays of 40 yards or more (7 of them over 50) in his senior season, and it’s that big-play ability the Bulldogs have been missing.
In 2011, MSU was dead last in the SEC in kickoff returns. With an 18.4 yard-per-return average, State was the only team in the conference to average less than 20 yards per kickoff return. To say the Dawgs could use some help would be an understatement.
To their credit, MSU’s average of 11.4 yards per punt return was fifth in the SEC, though as luck would have it, that number was also fifth in the western division, as well as being largely dependent on a couple big returns.
Both on special teams and often on offense last year, MSU lacked a home-run threat. With Holloway, Mullen may have found someone with game-breaking speed in both areas.