Severely injured Duke receiver Blair Holliday improving, speaks to coaches

Duke receiver Blair Holliday, who was severely injured when his jet ski collided with that of teammate Jamison Crowder on North Carolina's Lake Tillery on July 4, made another stride Tuesday when he spoke to the coaching staff for the first time.

"It was a joyous day in the Yoh Football Center as we had the entire staff in the office for a short phone call with Blair," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said in a release. "We had him on speakerphone, and it was just great to hear his voice — a sound that absolutely filled the room with exuberance. We talked about the rehabilitation process and how important it is, and when I asked him if he understood how much we loved him, he responded with a confident 'yes'."

Holliday suffered major brain injuries during the accident and spent the past four weeks in UNC Hospital in critical, but stable condition. He was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta on Monday to continue his rehabilitation. He'll be held in the Shepherd's Acquired Brain Injury Unit.

In another release from the school, Holliday's mother, Leslie Holliday, said her son was starting the road back to the person he used to be.

"God continues to amaze us through Blair each day," Leslie Holliday said. "Glimpses of Blair's personality are emerging. Blair fist bumps teammates and responds with a head nod when asked questions. Blair recently smiled while hearing his Dad's voice over the phone. We feel blessed that Blair has been given the opportunity to transition to Shepherd. We have mixed feelings about taking NSICU's "Baby" to Atlanta, but we know it's in Blair's best interest. God has opened so many doors and opportunities for Blair's full recovery. Our family will continue to provide updates related to Blair's condition and ask that you continue to #PrayFor8."

Duke and Nike are currently producing T-shirts with the slogans "PRAY FOR 8" and "EVERY DAY IS A HOLLIDAY" that will be available this season in the Duke team store.

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