INDIANAPOLIS — Elijah Holyfield has two legacies to live up to as he enters the 2019 NFL Draft.
One is the reputation his college, the University of Georgia, has for producing excellent NFL running backs, two of whom, Sony Michel of the New England Patriots and Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, recently squared off in Super Bowl LIII.
The other is the Holyfield name.
Holyfield is the son of former undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, and he bears a striking resemblance to the legendary boxer.
“(My father) has a lot of things that we been through growing up that has prepared me for days like this,” Holyfield said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I hope I learned them along the way.”
Holyfield, who described his running style as “angry” and “physical,” dabbled in boxing in his younger years, but he always felt drawn to the gridiron.
“It’s just the passion that I have for football,” Holyfield said. “It’s unmatched by any other sports. I’ve played plenty of other sports, but I’ve never felt the way that I do when I play football. … It just continues to drive me.”
Holyfield saw intermittent action over his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, then broke out as a junior after Michel and fellow running back Nick Chubb left for the NFL. The 5-foot-10, 217-pound bruiser rushed for 1,018 yards, averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns in 2018 before declaring early for the NFL draft.
As he prepares for draft day, Holyfield said he’s received advice for Michel, whom the Patriots selected in the first round last spring.
“He said just be yourself, get as much rest as you can, get off your feet and just do what you do,” said Holyfield, who entered combine week as the eighth-ranked running back prospect on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s big board. “I’ve been doing it for a long time, and just don’t overthink it.”
As for the pressure of following in the footsteps of Gurley, Michel and Chubb, all of whom have found success at the NFL level after starring in Athens, Holyfield replied: “I’ve been living up to a legacy my whole life, so it’s nothing new for me.”
Thumbnail photo via Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Images