From the day he was born, Elijah Holyfield had a lot to prove.
As the son of one of the most decorated American boxers of all time, greatness was expected of Holyfield. The junior running back said he uses the perception that he’s still living in his father, Evander Holyfield’s, shadow as “motivation to get out of it.”
Now, with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel — Georgia’s second and third-leading all-time rushers — headed to the NFL, Holyfield has more shadows to outrun.
Expectations are high for the entire corps of Bulldog running backs, coming off a year where Georgia rode its pair of 1,000 yard rushers all the way to a national championship appearance. Holyfield said he plans to take what he picked up from Chubb and Michel while they were in Athens to help carry Georgia’s recent success forward.
“When they were here, you don’t really think you learned all of it, and then once they leave, you kind of think about like damn, I’m doing the same thing as him,” Holyfield said. “So I’ve really enjoyed it, just the mindset of coming out every day to practice.”
Holyfield added that although practice isn’t always going to be fun, Chubb and Michel instilled the importance of consistently working hard, something he hopes to continue on in their absence.
Holyfield’s emphasis on practicing hard every day the team takes the field is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his coaches.
“He’s still gaining confidence as a player, but he works really hard,” Kirby Smart said. “He’s one of the guys that excites you out there because he works so hard.”
Holyfield’s off-season dedication to football has also shown up in his physique. Earlier in the spring, a picture of a bulked up Holyfield taking a carry at practice went viral among Georgia fans due to the size of his arms.
Holyfield said his larger muscles also go back to what he learned from Chubb, saying he often finds out what kind of numbers Chubb could put up in the weight room and “ try to get to those.”
And according to Holyfield, he does more than just try.
“Ask Chubb,” he said. “I can hang with Chubb.”
But Holyfield does not plan on playing in the shadows of Chubb or Michel. As a junior, he projects to be one of the veteran leaders of a group of underclassmen such as D’Andre Swift and Zamir White.
Now that he has the opportunity to earn a larger portion of the carries, something he said he’s “always going to be excited about,” Holyfield is ready to further define who he is as a player.
“As I get the ball more, I think everybody will be able to see all the things I can do,” he said.
(You can follow Nathan Berg on Twitter @NathanxBerg)
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