Elijah Holyfield set for NFL armed with fatherly advice and Georgia grounding

Omnisport
Former Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield, son of Evander Holyfield, is keen to establish his own legacy in the NFL.

Elijah Holyfield set for NFL armed with fatherly advice and Georgia grounding

Former Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield, son of Evander Holyfield, is keen to establish his own legacy in the NFL.

Elijah Holyfield's dad may have been an undisputed boxing world champion at two weight classes, but it is the lessons Evander taught his son away from sport that most resonate with the NFL hopeful.

"It's the way you carry yourself in public and stuff like that," Elijah Holyfield told Omnisport.

"Always being respectful off the field."

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However, like most sportsmen, the Holyfields have a different mindset when it comes to approaching their chosen discipline.

Evander, still the only four-time world heavyweight champion, unified both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions in a career that included 44 wins and 29 knockouts.

And Elijah looked like a chip off the old block when he showcased a punishing running style in rushing for over 1,000 yards as a junior at Georgia last year.

"When it's time for showtime, he was probably the meanest man in the world," Elijah said of his dad. "I think I learned some of the stuff that I am now from him."

It is on the gridiron, rather than in the ring, that running back Elijah Holyfield hopes to establish his own legacy.

Though he fought in both taekwondo and boxing as a youngster, the NFL was his true passion and former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson was his idol.

Holyfield enrolled at Georgia in 2016 but had to bide his time for two years while future NFL backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were on the roster.

With Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley, an MVP candidate last season, having also come through the same system, Georgia has established a reputation for producing fine NFL backs - a tradition Holyfield is keen to continue.

"I think it's a mindset," he said.

"We're all labelled as one thing when we come in. By the time we move out we become complete backs because you compete with guys who are better at certain things than you.

"There's no running back at Georgia that's the best at everything so you have to always continue to work on a different part of your game and by the time you leave you're a full-rounded back. I think the competition helps a lot."

That system may have prepared Holyfield for the on-field aspect of the NFL, but, by his own admission, he has had to learn to cope with the added off-field scrutiny.

A disappointing 40-yard dash time of 4.78 seconds at the NFL Combine raised concerns over a lack of breakaway speed - though that was not evident at college - and Holyfield has had to try and shut out the subsequent negativity.

"I've faced a lot of criticism over the last couple of months," he admitted.

"It's just trying to block everybody out. It's easier to block it out when you're playing on a team – it's criticism on a team so you can get with your team-mates and take it all together and bounce back together.

"Now it's you individually at this point. You don't really have anyone to lean on as far as somebody going through the exact same thing as you.

"I've talked to some of my old team-mates that have been through this process. I've spoken to my parents, but I feel like it's something that you really have to get through on your own because no matter what anybody says, if you're still reading the stuff and you let it get to you, you can't help them.

"You have to have an understanding of yourself and become mentally strong and move past that."

Ultimately, though, as his dad will no doubt tell him, it is actions that speak louder than words, and Elijah Holyfield will only get a chance to silence the naysayers once he sets foot on an NFL field.

"I wish the draft was yesterday," he said. "I do not like waiting like this! I'm ready to see what happens."

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