Holliday continues steady progression

Ever since last year's fall camp it has been hard not to notice J.J. Holliday. The former Tucson Santa Rita standout is good for at least one acrobatic catch almost every practice. After redshirting as a freshman, Holliday figures to be high on the rotation of his position this year but the humble receiver feels that he still has to work hard to secure his standing in the depth chart.

"I'm having a good fall camp," said the 6-0 170 J.J. Holliday. "I've been working hard all summer; we had some good workouts with the team. I think we are all connecting on the team and looking good on both sides of the ball."

In high school Holliday was one of the fastest and most productive receivers in the state of Arizona. He ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the Under Armour/Scout.com Phoenix Combine in May of 2008, the fastest of all camp participants. He earned All-Arizona and First-Team All-4A honors in 2008 by the Arizona Republic. He bench presses 275 pounds and squats 350. He caught 109 passes for 2,351 yards with 30 touchdown receptions during his junior and senior seasons at Santa Rita, averaging 21.6 yards-per-catch during that span. He led Santa Rita to the 2008 Arizona 4A-II state championship game.

"I have been working a lot on my blocking, getting some techniques down" Holliday said of his skills, "and having faster feet…just bringing all my skills together to be a better player."

And what about that circus catches that are now becoming a trademark of his?

"Sometime the ball follows me," Holliday said. "It feels like your hands are magnets or something. But we have really good quarterbacks who know how to place the ball away from the defenders and that helps a lot. Obviously I have been working very hard on catching balls and it's paying off."

Throughout his Sun Devil career Holliday has played both in the slot and at outside receiver, but recently he has been exclusively spotted at the later role. It's a position that head coach Dennis Erickson believes he's better suited for, but Holliday isn't partial to any assignment that comes his way.

"I just go wherever the coach needs me," Holliday commented. "Whatever role he feels I can help the team I'm down with it. Playing outside is more my natural position but I need to continue and work hard so I can play all positions."

Not only was the wide receiver one of the best players on last year's scout team, but later in the year he took reps with the second team despite redshirting. Holliday believes that the experience he gained from that season was invaluable.

"It helped me a lot because you get to see how the defense plays and just have a better look at them," explained Holliday. "You realize what kind of defenses you are going to face during a game and work off of that. When you play well against the first team defense that gives you motivation that you can do well on offense."

Any observer of this year's fall practices cannot help but be impressed with the offensive turnaround and that is naturally a sentiment that is shared by the members of the Sun Devil squad.

"Everybody on the offense, and also the defense, is more like a family this year," Holliday noted. "That has helped the team out a lot in playing better. On offense we are working a lot harder, we do a better job being physical, better blocking and we are much quicker this year.

"It just looks like a totally different offense."


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