With a new coaching staff in place, J.J. Holliday will have a second chance to make a lasting impression on the Sun Devil staff.
“I looked at this as a great opportunity to get their [new coaches] attention,” Holliday said. “I started off badly with the other coaches, and it was great to get a fresh start.”
Indeed, Holliday has definitely gotten their undivided attention.
“He has gotten stronger, he has great hands, he’s running good routes and right now [wide receivers) coach [Coach Alexander] thinks he’s one of our best guys,” said Head Coach Todd Graham. “So right now he has a chance to start. So we are excited for him and the progress he’s made. He’s also a great kid, and a guy that you can trust and is dependable.”
The wide receiver naturally appreciated the praise and the chance this coaching staff has given him thus far.
“I’ve had confidence in my abilities since they have gotten here,” Holliday remarked. “I am all in and am doing everything that they ask of me. For them to compliment me, [it] lets me know that I am making progress in becoming a better player. I just had to make some plays to get up there [depth chart] and I was confident they would give me the chance.
“I’m doing pretty well, better than I have done the past two years, but I can always get better. I need to lock in that starting spot and become a consistent playmaker.”
Even with all of the personnel changes at the wide receiver position, Holliday sees this group of players having success. “We have a lot of speed, we lost a lot [of players], but we gained a lot of playmakers,” Holliday claimed. “Between [Rashad] Ross, [Jamal] Miles, and me, along with the freshmen we have so much speed. We won’t have a problem making plays downfield.”
Holliday credits all of the hard work the team put in together over the summer as the reason for all of the optimism surrounding this team, and added that his squad welcomed the culture change that came with it.
“We worked hard, on and off the field,” Holliday described. “As a team we grew closer, everybody would hang out with each other and get to know one another while building relationships. It’s been different than the past two years, but this year a lot of people got close and we have great chemistry.”
While Holliday may not possess the big play making abilities of other wide receivers, he is able to play to his strengths to find success. “I am a very good route runner,” Holliday said. “I will always have that ball high and tight, [because] it’s the worst feeling to drop that ball.
“Ball security is job security especially with Coach Graham.”
Holliday is excited about Coach Graham’s high octane offense and believes that the scheme will play to his abilities, as well as to the skills of his fellow wide receivers.
“As a good route runner, I think it definitely plays to my strengths,” Holiday commented. “I really like how we go down the field and all of the vertical pass plays. We will have the chance to make some big plays this year.”
While Holliday cannot predict who the starting quarterback will be, he knows the player ultimately chosen will have the respect of the offense and will lead the team with poise.
“They are all great leaders and are very confident in their abilities,” Holliday explained. “They all bring a great vibe to this team, [and] it will be on us to help them as an offense. We can’t make mistakes around them.”