77, Hike! Holloway last man standing at center

NASHVILLE-- One week from Saturday, Trey Holloway should get to do something he hasn't done since he was six years old-- play center in a football game. The 6-2, 285-pound Holloway, a converted defensive tackle, may be the only player in America who can move four spots up the depth chart without taking a single rep! <i>Meet the junior who'll be holding down the middle of the Commodores' O-line.</i>

NASHVILLE-- One week from Saturday, Trey Holloway should get to do something he hasn't done since he was six years old-- play center in a football game.

The question of who'll be doing the snapping, one of the Commodores' biggest concerns coming into fall camp, has largely been answered by the 6-2, 285-pound Holloway, a converted defensive tackle.

OK, make no mistake, there's still plenty of reason for Vanderbilt fans to be concerned about the center position this fall. Holloway, an Oklahoma native, manned both sides of the line in high school, but never played center. Backing him up is true freshman Hamilton "Hambone" Holliday, who not only never played center in high school, but has missed several practices recently with nagging injuries.

Nonetheless Holloway, who has allayed many of the coaches' fears about the position, says he is feeling more and more confident with each practice regarding his new role. "I have a lot of confidence in myself that I can get the job done," he says. "All the other guys on the offensive line have confidence in me too."

With each day of practice that passes, it seems to be more true.


Though Trey Holloway saw plenty of playing time last season as a defensive tackle, only this fall has his name become a household word among Vandy fans. With the Commodores having lost four centers in the off-season, the converted tackle, who got in a few reps at center as a spring experiment, watched with wonder during the summer as his name slowly climbed up the depth chart.

"It got to be kind of a joke," he laughed. "I think I'm the only man in America who can move four spots up the depth chart without taking a single rep."

Last year's starter, Tom Sorensen, elected to leave school for a Latter-Day Saints mission. Backup Adam Dossett suffered a serious knee injury in the spring, and by the end of fall camp, Chris Williams and Steven Brent were both lost to academic deficiencies.

"Literally I was probably the fifth option at center at the end of springtime... then by the opening of camp, I was the starter. It was kind of weird," says the fourth-year junior.

"My first two years I spent a lot of time getting into the [defensive] system and learning it. By the end of last season I knew it pretty well. They came to me in the off-season and talked to me about moving to center.

"I didn't really work with it too hard during the springtime, but as the summer progressed, things happened, and it became necessary for me to move over. It was something that I was willing to do, because the team needed it."

Most ignorant fans would think it's not a big deal to move from defensive line to offensive line-- you're just lining up and hitting the other guys, right? But with the intricate schemes deployed by college offenses, it's a huge deal.

"For the most part, the hardest part of the change has been just learning the offense," Holloway said. "I already knew a few things about our offense just from going to practice against it every day. But it's all those calls that you have to make.

"I played offensive line in high school, but it's a whole different level here. A lot of it is terminology and things like that. You recognize plays, but you don't really know the calls they make. Learning all that is the hardest part."

Though there were a few bad exchanges on shotgun snaps in Saturday's scrimmage inside Vanderbilt Stadium, Holloway said the snapping part of the game has been coming along naturally.

Realizing over the summer that he might have a chance to win the position, Holloway was able to work with quarterback Jay Cutler in many of the unsupervised 7-on-7 drills. It was there that Cutler and Holloway developed a chemistry with each other, and that may have given Holloway the leg up on the job coming into fall camp.

"We've had a few drops, which I think is to be expected, with me being new there. But it's coming along."

At present, true freshman Hamilton Holliday has been backing up Holloway. Starting guard Mac Pyle could move over to snap the ball if absolutely necessary, and Dossett, who's almost recovered from knee surgery, could become available at some point during the season.


After three years as a defensive lineman, Holloway said one of the toughest parts of his transition to offense has been having to forsake his old comrades on the defensive line. Part of his new job involves scrimmaging daily against his friends who were once his brothers-in-arms.

"You do have to kind of set that aside. You're on defense for the first three years here, but now you have this new job you need to do. And it's hard to go back on that.

"But you've got to realize, it's for them too that I'm doing this. Everybody on this team is working toward that one goal."

Coming all the way from Oklahoma was another big transition for Holloway, but that's one transition he says he's never regretted.

"A lot of kids from my high school [Heritage Hall in Edmond, Okla.] have ended up coming to school here at Vanderbilt. It's been a very smooth transition. It's a good distance, but it's not so far that my parents can't get out here to see some games."

A Sociology major who plans to apply to medical school next year, Trey is also a voracious reader in his spare time. "I read a lot," he says, "that and play video games."


As a player playing his first game at center, Holloway could catch a break in the opening game against South Carolina. The Gamecocks' likely starting tackles are an inexperienced pair of junior college transfers, Darrell Shropshire and Freddy Saint-Preux.

USC also has a new defensive coordinator in former Cincinnati coach Rick Minter, and the variety of defense he will install is largely a mystery.

"We've really been working on our own schemes right now, and mostly working on us," said Holloway. We haven't started game-planning yet for South Carolina, but it's something we'll get into more as we progress with practice."


Photos by Brent Wiseman, copyright 2004 for VandyMania.com.

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