Vols' Gillespie Holyfield's 'favorite'

Elijah Holyfield may be the son of a World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, but he's quickly making a name for himself as a football prospect.

BUFORD, Ga. — Followers of Tennessee football recruiting realize the need to land supreme talent at running back in the Class of 2016.

One of the first names at the top of the board is Woodward (Ga.) Academy standout Elijah Holyfield.

“It’s pretty great,” Holyfield told InsideTennessee. “I’m blessed for me to be that top target. I’m just going to keep working so I can stay that top target.”

During a tour of several schools two weeks ago, the nation’s No. 25-ranked back made a return trip to Knoxville.

“I got to talk to coach (Butch) Jones a little bit more,” Holyfield said. “He showed me around. They were working out, so I got to see them work out a little bit. Got to really spend the whole day with the coaches individually and kind of see what they were all about and I was really impressed.”

No unofficial visit for one of the top names on the recruiting board is going to be complete without a chit-chat with the head man. That talk with Jones gave the Atlanta-area recruit a better idea of the type of man he’d play for if Holyfield signed with Tennessee.

“He’s a real down-to-earth guy — unlike some other coaches,” Holyfield said of Jones. “It feels like a person you can really relate to and you can come in here and talk to him like he’s just another coach and having the high profile of a head coach. I really like that about him.”

Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie recognized the Scout four-star prospect’s talent early in the process and has quite the relationship built.

“(Gillespie)’s probably my favorite recruiter that’s recruiting me in general,” Holyfield said. “He’s a really great guy. He’s really down to earth and can relate to what you say. I like the way he coaches and everything like that. Me and him have a great relationship.”

(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)

Holyfield got his scholarship offer several months ago and visited the Tennessee campus last summer. Since then, the Vols have replaced offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian with Mike DeBord.

“I met (DeBord) and got to talk to him for a little bit,” Holyfield said. “I was really impressed. He told me about some of the things they’re going to do this year, and I’m really excited to see it.”

The No. 1-rated runner in the Peach State continues to take the recruiting process in stride even though the attention is plentiful.

“It’s pretty cool,” Holyfield said. “It gets pretty overwhelming at times but for the most part I’m just blessed to have this many people coming after me.”

The 5-foot-10, 204-pounder continues to get attention from several Southeastern Conference schools and has reciprocated some interest in Notre Dame. However, a top 5 has not been released.

“No, I don’t have a list yet, but I’ll probably come out with one by the end of spring,” Holyfield said. “Track season is about to start, so I’ll be occupied on Saturday’s.”

Holyfield plans to run the 100-meter and 100-meter relay for Woodward Academy’s track team this spring.

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