Elijah Holyfield, son of Evander Holyfield, inks free agent deal with Panthers

Elijah Holyfield is getting an NFL chance.

Holyfield, the son of four-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, went undrafted but agreed to terms on a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers.

The younger Holyfield, a running back out of Georgia, was announced among the team’s crop of undrafted free agents on Monday. He will report to rookie minicamp in a few weeks.

Holyfield’s draft stock doomed by 40 times

After backing up Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns) and Sony Michel (New England Patriots) in 2017, Holyfield, along with D’Andre Swift (a name you’ll hear at next year’s draft), assumed lead back duties for the Bulldogs in 2018. Holyfield, a 5-foot-10, 217-pound bruiser, rushed for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt.

Instead of returning for his senior season, Holyfield declared for the draft. However, his stock took a big hit at the NFL combine when he ran times of 4.78 and 4.81 seconds in the 40-yard dash — the slowest among the running backs in attendance. And when those times did not improve at his pro day (4.86 and 4.89), it became a very real possibility that Holyfield would go undrafted.

“Everyone knows I can run well, but I’ve never been a good tester,” Holyfield told Yahoo Sports’ Jay Busbee. “I felt good about [the 40], I had trained hard, but I didn’t run my best. I don’t know whether I got too pumped up or what. I had been running 4.5, 4.6. If I ran 4.7, 4.8 in practice, I never would have run it.”

Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield (13) hurdles a Texas defender during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield (13) has agreed to a deal with the Carolina Panthers. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)

Where does Holyfield fit in Carolina?

When Holyfield indeed went undrafted, the Panthers were quick to bring him in as a free agent, even after drafting Florida’s Jordan Scarlett in the fifth round.

Holyfield and Scarlett join a crowded group hoping to earn backup roles behind Christian McCaffrey. The team also has four-year veteran Cameron Artis-Payne, Reggie Bonnafon (a 2018 undrafted free agent signee) and Elijah Hood (a 2017 Raiders draftee coming off a torn ACL) under contract.

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