One Hungry Back

With a semester of uncertainty behind him, running back Mell Holliday is on scholarship and fighting for playing time as a running back. Inside, Holliday talks about how the new emphasis on a north-south running style fits his way of carrying the ball.

Mell Holliday was the surprise player of the CU offense last August. He transferred to CU last fall after attending the University of Nebraska for a year-and-a half. Though Holliday played ball at Nebraska-Weslyan in years previous, he didn't play at Nebraska. For that reason, he and some on the former CU coaching staff thought he could play right away as a transfer student at Colorado.

After a particularly strong week of practice in August, and in the wake of three players transferring from the team, it appeared Holliday might earn a scholarship last fall. But that hope was squashed when the NCAA ruled he had to sit out a transfer year, even though he didn't play varsity athletics at the school from which he transferred.

Now, however, Holliday is on scholarship, and was told, if he holds up his end of the bargain on and off the field this spring, he will be on scholarship in the fall during his senior year.

At 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, Holliday is a straight-ahead runner with the best combination of quickness and tackle-breaking power of any CU back on the current roster.

BSN spoke with Holliday before Tuesday's practice:

BSN: How's your spring been going?
Mell Holliday:
It's been going great, so far. We'll see how it comes out. We're getting toward the end. But so far it's been good.

BSN: Has it been much different working with Coach Hagan, or with the new offense?
Holliday:
It's a little more simple. So it's easy to get a little faster. You don't have to focus so much on what you could be doing. It's a simplified system. It makes it a little easier for everybody to step up.

BSN: How much are you weighing right now?
Holliday:
About 200. I weighed a little bit less during the first scrimmage. I was weighing about 195 then, but I'm feeling alright (at 200).

BSN: Last fall when it looked like you were going to be on scholarship, then the NCAA said you couldn't play, was there ever a time when you thought it's not even worth it?
Holliday:
Yeah, you know what, I felt like going home. But I talked to a couple of the coaches here, and some of the players wanted me to stay. Everything else that I set out to accomplish, I was already doing. The only thing I had left was to play ball. So I figured, there wasn't no need to quit now, I was already here.

BSN: How hungry are you to play in the fall?
Holliday:
I'm as hungry as anybody could be. It's like I've been starving for so long. In this situation, I'm full steam, no hesitation, no matter what.

BSN: What has Coach Hagan told you that you need to do to get on the field in the fall?
Holliday:
The main thing he tells all of us (running backs) is to be decisive. Maintain focus. We've got to have endurance so we can't be lazy. Now we've got a new system that pretty much goes with the way I run; it's north-south. He wants everything to go north-south, so it's kind of like second nature to me.


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