Photo by Brian Paglia / Eagle’s Landing junior running back Corey Holloway has rushed for 898 yards and eight touchdowns in just five games this season.
McDONOUGH — This is not the kind of Eagle’s Landing running back opponents are used to facing.
This one shrugs off twisted ankles and tweaked knees. He once played an entire middle school season with a broken left hand.
This one memorizes entire motivational speeches. He once recited one in front of the team before a game.
This one scours YouTube for highlight reels of old-school running backs as he quickly starts to create one of his own.
Despite Eagle’s Landing’s 0-5 start, there’s no escaping the Golden Eagles may have a star-in-the-making in junior running back Corey Holloway.
“He can run over people,” Eagle’s Landing coach Joe Teknipp said.
He ran over plenty in Eagle’s Landing’s 52-36 loss at Riverdale last Friday. Holloway finished the game with 224 yards on just 18 carries with two touchdowns, including one on an explosive 79-yard hook-and-ladder.
That’s the kind of performance coaches expected from Holloway after his transition to varsity football last season as a sophomore. They noticed Holloway didn’t assert himself, preferring instead to defer to Teknipp’s son, Tyler, the senior quarterback.
“He’s a very respectful kid,” Teknipp said. “He knew it was Tyler’s team last year.”
With Tyler graduated, Teknipp and Golden Eagles running backs coach Rodney Baxley said Holloway’s transformation into a key cog began this summer. Holloway agreed. He credited a new weight-training program brought by first-year assistant coach Davon DeVeaux from Stockbridge.
“Everything was different,” Holloway said. “Workouts were never the same each day. They were more intense. More was expected — more reps and more weight.”
Then Holloway noticed the difference during Eagle’s Landing’s scrimmage against Union Grove. Holloway said he felt a dramatic improvement in his ability to think through plays and identify which offensive lineman would pull to be his lead blocker. He also saw a drastic change in the offensive line in its second year being coached by Teknipp’s brother, Phil.
“My quarterback [Bradley Dewberry, his cousin] and offensive line set me up,” Holloway said. “They get everything started for me.”
Holloway saw the progression in action in the Golden Eagles’ season-opener against Ola. The first tackler would come toward Holloway and feel a stiff arm or grasp fruitlessly at his ankles.
Teknipp sees it as a sign his running back is growing into a leader.
“He’s older, more mature, stronger,” Teknipp said. “He believes it’s his team.”
Word spreads of this kind of talent quickly. So it did for Holloway from the very beginning.
Baxley coached football at Eagle’s Landing Middle School for 11 years before joining Teknipp’s staff last season. He heard about Holloway’s potential long before the running back arrived.
“You heard stories,” Baxley said. “He was the king of rec ball.”
Holloway rushed for 1,000 yards one season — which lasted just six games. When the eighth grade team made the playoffs, Baxley pulled Holloway up from the seventh grade team.
Hardly ever did Baxley hear any complaints of pain from Holloway. Not about a sprained ankle or twisted knee or bruised shoulder.
“You can’t hurt him,” Baxley said. “And if he is hurt, he won’t let you know.”
Instead, he’s hurting opponents. In five games, the junior has run for 898 yards and eight touchdowns on 89 carries. He’s averaging 179.6 yards a game and over 10 yards per carry. He’s rushed for over 200 yards in back-to-back games against No. 7 Jonesboro (4-1) and Riverdale (4-1).
Holloway’s next test may be his toughest when Eagle’s Landing hosts Stockbridge this Friday. The Tigers are coming off a stunning 17-14 upset victory over previously No. 2-ranked Griffin on the road.
But Holloway is confident Eagle’s Landing is ready for its region-opener.
“I think it’s going to be a real good game,” Holloway said. “Their defense is really good. I just know I’m going to bring it.”