UGA Football

Holyfield rounds out ‘pretty special’ five-man backfield

Elijah Holyfield dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Florida.
Elijah Holyfield dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Florida. The Telegraph

Elijah Holyfield didn’t have an open hole to run through. A Florida defender closed in ready to tackle the sophomore running back at the line of scrimmage.

But Holyfield, who was fresh off the bench, put a juke move on defensive back Brandon Stewart, leaving him on the turf following his missed tackle. Holyfield then took off running through the now-open lane and down the left sideline.

With another Florida defender closing in on an angle, Holyfield planted his right foot at the 4-yard line and dove into the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown.

Holyfield’s touchdown was his second of the year in the Bulldogs’ 42-7 win over the Gators.

His touchdown, however, came with the game in hand in the fourth quarter. Holyfield, a running back talented enough to start on many other teams around the country, has been Georgia’s fifth option this season.

“I’ve been around a lot of good four-man rotations, but five is pretty special,” head coach Kirby Smart said.

Holyfield has 227 rushing yards and two scores this season, with most of his work coming in the fourth quarter. But with Georgia’s second team primarily, Holyfield has still managed an impressive average of 7.1 yards per carry.

Holyfield has done more than just run the ball when called upon. Following Georgia’s win over Florida, Smart tabbed Holyfield one of the program’s two special teams players of the week.

“He works really hard. He’s a very prideful kid,” Smart said. “It’s very important to Elijah that he does well. He’s very attentive in meetings. He’s a joy to work with. He’s made himself into a good special teams player.”

With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel commanding the bulk of the carries in Georgia’s backfield, to go with D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien’s share, Holyfield has been in a backup role all year. But he has been able to develop well against quality competition just by being the fifth back on the roster.

Holyfield has worked with the scout team quite a bit, pitting him against Georgia’s first-team defense. That has helped develop Holyfield for the time he has been able to get on the playing field this season.

And with that in mind, it hasn’t mattered when one back goes out and another comes in. Holyfield has been able to make plays just as the others have.

“I don’t have to say much. You see it,” right guard Solomon Kindley said. “All of our running backs are very, very good. We can put anybody in. We can get production out of anyone of them. That’s great for an offensive line to see.”