Those who grow up in South Sacramento, an area that many consider to be rough, find that opportunities are hard to come by. Tariq Hollandsworth was no exception.
"My dad left when I was young, and in my neighborhood that is not a good thing," he said. "You either have to choose the street, or you forge your way down another path."
Hollandsworth was gifted with natural athleticism and size, but it was his choice to put it to good use.
"I made the decision that I wasn't going to fall victim to the neighborhood," he said. "I became kind of an outcast. When people wanted to go to a party, I couldn't. I didn't. Football is my ticket to provide for my family and make something of myself."
The struggle is paying off for the Northern California running back as offers from universities have been rolling in left and right. Boise State pulled the trigger over the weekend, an offer that Hollandsworth says validates the sacrifices and decisions he has made.
"You don't understand how truly excited I am," he said. "From what I've come from and doing what I've done, all my hard work is paying off. An offer coming from Boise is a big deal."
As a junior, the 6-foot, 206-pound Hollandsworth helped guide the Sacramento High Dragons to their first Metropolitan League title since 1992. In the championship-clinching win over Burbank in late October, he gobbled up 258 yards on the ground and found the end zone four times.
The seeds sown at a young age produced an outstanding junior year as Hollandsworth accumulated 1,536 rushing yards and 23 scores. He played both ways as well as the Dragons' middle linebacker. Colleges came calling shortly thereafter. Hollandsworth holds additional offers from Utah State, UNLV, Hawaii, Army, Sacramento State and UC Davis. Washington, Utah and San Diego State have also expressed interest.
Monday was Sacramento High's first day of fall practice, and Hollandsworth is ready for his senior year.
"Seeing the helmet with the decals on it brought everything back," he said. "I'm kind of the face of the program this year. It adds pressure to the shoulder pads, but I love it."
Hollandsworth has visited Sacramento State and UNLV, and holds the Rebels in high regard.
"I love UNLV," he said. "That's a great school and an emerging program."
He's not ready to commit anywhere yet, but the speedy athlete says Boise State is his current favorite and he is looking forward to checking out The Blue in person.
"I'm young, I just became a senior and I have a lot of football to play," Hollandsworth said. "I want to enjoy the recruiting process, but I really like Boise State.
"I've been talking to the running backs coach Lee Marks a lot and I am going to take an early visit."
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