NAME: Elijah Holyfield
POSITION: Running Back
JERSEY: No. 13
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 215 lbs
Vision – Has outstanding vision behind the line of scrimmage and a great feel for where space is going to develop. Knows how to push his path both vertically and horizontally to put defenders where he wants them. Especially adept at pressing line of scrimmage to draw in force players, then bounce outside of them. Reads blocks as they develop and works with the leverage of his linemen exceedingly well; can hit the narrow creases.
Burst – Not overly explosive but is above-average. Burst when running through angles is more impressive than in a straight line: can win the boundary with great acceleration around the hoop and regularly destroys angles of force players, especially cornerbacks. Burst is accentuated by quick footwork and industrious movements: keeps his feet tethered to the ground to always be ready to explode. Translates speed into power when approaching contact, and will accelerate to deliver a hit.
Change of Direction – Has tremendous footwork and agility when considering his size (215 pounds). Very light on his feet with excellent flexibility through the lower half, leading to body control at sudden stops. Has a very high step frequency through the trash between the tackles and runs with urgency and timeliness accordingly. Is always connected to the ground and able to make the second or third cut necessary. Not overly elusive with jukes or spins — prefers to hit — but sets up great initial angles with his quickness.
Power – Brings eye-popping power to the contact point. Tape held multiple instances of planting defenders or running through them for dirty yardage. Rarely finished runs on his back. Natural leverage and thick lower half contributes to pile-driving ability, which was useful in goalline or short-yardage situations. Brought power with him when asked to pass protect.
2nd Level Speed – Only average in this area. Because of low-riding frame and step frequency, struggles to open up and fly when he gets into space. Does not have a second gear beyond his initial burst, and has to pour effort into hitting top speed. Will not run away from many third-level defenders.
Contact Balance – Not so much a tackle-breaker as he is a run-finisher, but still in possession of great contact balance. Low-riding frame and pad level contribute to the shedding of arm tackles regularly in the first and second-level. Absorbs contact around his legs nicely and is able to finish forward.
Decision-making – Remarkably instinctive runner who picks his spots well. Has successful bounces and patient, between-the-tackle runs both across his film. Sees through trees into the second level and finds room in narrow spaces that many college running backs would miss. Can trust his quickness too much at times when attacking outside, but ability to finish forward with velocity mitigates the concerns here.
Pass Catching – Has seven — seven — career catches to his name, five of which came in this season, his only season with significant touches overall. Lack of data more so a result of crowded Georgia backfield than inability, but evidence in Combine/Pro Day that he can catch is an absolute must.
Pass Protection – Has some recognition issues but wins when he sees it develop. More effective finding rushers off the edge than he is IDing interior blitzes. Plays with an active, powerful base and delivers a shot to disrupt rush paths. Frame and demeanor lend themselves to a positive projection here.
BEST TRAIT – Power
WORST TRAIT – Speed
RED FLAGS – None
PLAYER COMPARISON – Chris Carson
Only a one-year starter and generally underutilized piece in a busy Bulldog backfield, Elijah Holyfield is the sleeper of this year’s RB class. A delightfully seasoned player for his low mileage, Holyfield has a great instinct for space, and naturally creates his own creases by operating with an attractive blend of patience and timeliness behind the line of scrimmage. A powerful finisher who regularly drags would-be tacklers for extra yardage, Holyfield won’t break many third-level runs at the next level — he lacks breakaway speed and ideal tackle-breaking instincts — but he will rarely lose yardage and surprise defenders with his quickness in space.
Holyfield rarely caught the football at Georgia, and must prove that he is a threat in the receiving game to become a three-down back at the next level. With that box checked, however, Holyfield projects as a Year 1 NFL starter capable of handling a full load on the most onerous of offenses. He has an NFL-ready frame, mind, and attitude, and should be considered among the top RBs in this class.
Feet – Does a great job cutting off blocks and stringing moves together. Can cut laterally and get surprisingly good width for his size. Short-strider but uses it to his advantage to make sharp cuts in tight quarters. Does well to angle his frame to get skinny through tight creases. Doesn’t have dynamic burst off his plant foot but he times his cuts well and keeps his feet moving through contact.
Vision – Has a natural feel for reading blocks running to daylight between the tackles. Illustrates good patience, allowing for blocks to take form. Reacts decisively and isn’t caught without a plan. Lacks creativity in space, opting for contact instead of working to create space.
Pass Protection – Yields mostly positive results in pass pro and shows the ability absorb contact by staying square and sinking his hips. Aggressively attacks rushers and keeps his hands active. Will occasionally misdiagnose where he should step up and help but the results of his blocks are wins for him.
Receiving – Only caught seven passes across three seasons at Georgia with five coming in 2018. In limited reps, Holyfield didn’t have issues catching the football but his lack of creativity in space doesn’t demand for touches as a receiver. His value on passing downs comes in pass pro.
Balance – Wears shock absorbers and regularly sustains his upfield momentum through contact. Contact balance is superb. Arm tackles and ankle nips don’t affect him. Maintains outstanding body control through aggressive cuts. Low center of gravity.
Elusiveness – Offers good agility relative to his size. Fairly light on his feet and makes fluid cuts. Doesn’t impress with wiggle or twitch – power is his game. Capable of making cuts with his feet well outside his shoulders while maintaining excellent body control to angle through gaps.
Power – Dynamic power back with exciting ability to challenge tacklers with low pad and powerful leg drive. Absorbs contact extremely well and tacklers bounce off his frame. Forces opponents to make business decisions. Keeps his shoulders square and wins post-contact with leg drive. Evident lower body strength. He’s a tank plowing through defenses and always falls forward.
Competitive Toughness – Always battles for extra yards and keeps his legs moving through contact. Never lightly goes out of bounds and forces opponents to make him leave the field of play. Willing to reduce his pads and plow through anyone who dares to square him up. Tone-setting and imposing runner.
Versatility – Dominant between the tackles runner with enough juice to challenge the perimeter. Passing down upside comes in the way of blocking and his production as a receiver has been extremely poor. A true one-cut runner.
BEST TRAIT – Power
WORST TRAIT – Speed
RED FLAGS – Arrested May of 2017 on two misdemeanor drug charges. Charged with possession and use of drug related objects and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana
Holyfield’s power, size, balance and vision make him a dynamic power runner between the tackles with just enough juice to challenge defenses outside the tackles. He is a nuanced runner in terms of how he sees the field and works off his blocks. He is a violent and imposing runner that forces opponents to make business decisions when squaring him up to attempt a tackle. He was almost never tasked with receiving duties in college and his value on passing downs comes in pass protection where he has the skill set needed to excel. While he isn’t a home run threat and he lacks breakaway speed, Holyfield can bring the thunder to a stable of backs and grind away at defenses.