Holly committed to Arizona State in May of 2015, but coaching changes in December became a major concern in his recruitment. Other Pac-12 schools like Washington and Arizona that had shown interest had also turned their focus to other backs with Holly committed.
“It was a long, stressful, crazy process,” Holly said.
“At Arizona State the guys who recruited me ended up leaving,” Holly said. “Mike Norvell, he was one of the main guys recruiting me, he took a head job at Memphis. And then the running backs coach got fired and that switched up the whole game.
“I was looking at the situation and wondering if that was still the right place for me because those coaches were the guys who believed in me. I didn’t feel that the new coaches believed in me the same way. I obviously wanted to be somewhere where I felt loved and could make an early impact on the team”
After opening his recruitment back up late in the process, Hawaii jumped out as one of his options.
“I broke it down to two - Colorado State and Hawaii,” Holly said. “At Colorado State, it was a situation where they had two running backs committed and then they had another commit too. I already liked Hawaii. I prayed and hoped to see some signs and open my eyes. Hawaii was my number one for a long time because of the situation and opportunity.”
Holly took a visit to Hawaii that involved a surfing trip and several stops to the local eateries - it was his first ever trip to the Hawaiian Islands. On Jan. 28, less than a week before National Signing Day, he confirmed his decision to be a Warrior. Selling points for him were the coaching staff and the program overall.
“They have potential, you just have to get the right staff together and that’s what I believe they did,” Holly said. “And it’s a perfect opportunity for me because Coach Rolo loves to run the ball and as a running back it doesn’t get better than that.
“And I can’t see anything better than spending four years in paradise, I can’t complain about that. I really want to be a part of something on the rise, that nobody sees right now but will when we start winning big games. This class is really going to change the program I believe.”
It will be a big move for Holly. He had gone through his senior season believing he would suit up for the Sun Devils in Tempe, about a six-hour drive from Riverside. He tacked on an extra 2,000 miles to that travel in committing to UH.
“It was kind of a tough decision, but it was a business decision,” Holly said. “That was what was best for me. I have people in Hawaii too. One of my teammates has family in Hawaii and that’s like my second family. I’ll see if I can get my family there to check out some games too because they’ve also never been. That should be really fun to find a way to get them there too.”
On the field, there is no doubt that UH got a steal with Holly. As a back that was previously headed to the Pac-12, his film jumped out to many as one of the more impressive Mountain West-bound running backs in the 2016 class.
“I know I’ll fit in the offense because I’m a versatile, every-down back,” Holly said. “I can run in open space and run past a guy, I can also lower my shoulder and run somebody over. My feet, I work on my feet so much. In the hole, I know how to run and get into open space.
“I came from a power I-formation offense in high school, but I really truly love to spread things out and get into open space and get one-on-one matchups - it doesn’t get better than that. As a running back, your job is to make the first man miss and if you can’t do that you’re not a true running back. I believe I can do that.”
An opportunity to make an immediate impact was a highlight for Holly and he believes he can carry the rock on “Pride Rock” this fall.
“I got stronger in the weight room and I know that’s really going to help,” Holly said. “My speed too, I’m just trying to get bigger, stronger and faster every year and that’s one thing I really did this past season. I worked hard in offseason and inseason training, running treadmills, speed treadmills, resistant works, all kinds of work. My vision too, I’ve been doing running drills where I can tell certain stuff is easier for me. I really believe I’m going to be able to have an impact and help the team when I get there.
In the classroom, Holly plans to major in business or kinesiology and hopes to stay in the sports world.
“I want to open my open training facility and stay in sports,” Holly said. “I love sports and working with young athletes. I never want to leave that field, that’s where my heart belongs. Something to with that, whether it’s the business side or both.”
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