John Amis/Associated Press
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Panthers will sign Holyfield after he went undrafted.
Holyfield, the son of legendary boxer Evander Holyfield, had an excellent junior season for Georgia, rushing 159 times for 1,018 yards (6.4 YPC) and seven touchdowns. He paired with D’Andre Swift (1,049 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) to give the Bulldogs a scary one-two combination in the backfield.
That put Holyfield on the map for NFL teams after he largely served as a backup for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in his first two years, making him an intriguing prospect at this year’s draft. And Holyfield took advantage of having two future NFL players ahead of him on the depth chart early in his Georgia career.
“I learned how to practice, how to go through the offseason and how to get better,” he said in early February, per Andrew DiCecco of Eagles Wire. “They never peaked out—they always continued to get better every week.”
“It was a very humbling experience,” he added. “I think it taught me to keep working, no matter what. I knew my time would come eventually. I definitely think it’s helped me become a better football player, learning different things that I wouldn’t have learned had I went somewhere else.”
After two years of waiting, however, Holyfield took advantage of his time to shine, and after a solid junior season, he decided to turn pro.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and Josh Norris of Rotoworld broke down what Holyfield brings to the table at the NFL level:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Has enough speed to be an off-tackle runner. Not a ton of shake to his game but runs with power and acceleration. Showed vs. Alabama & Texas he can push the pile against tough run Ds. Picks his spots. Almost never loses yards.
Josh Norris @JoshNorris
Elijah Holyfield’s style perfectly matches his frame. Power on contact + leg drive = taking a 1v1 LB for a ride https://t.co/I3eDLv576h
And having a former heavyweight champion as a father taught the younger Holyfield a thing or two about work ethic, too:
Georgia Bulldogs @UGAAthletics
If there’s one thing that Elijah Holyfield’s dad taught him, it’s to work harder than everyone else. https://t.co/s2HL7QhI3v
Carolina will be banking on that work ethic, combined with his athletic abilities and the production he showcased in 2018, leading to a long and successful career in the NFL.
Holyfield doesn’t move the needle like some of the higher-profile running backs taken, but he’s a solid player who has shown steady improvement and could make an impact at the next level.
There’s little question he’ll work hard in an effort to do just that.
It will be an uphill climb for Holyfield to make the Panthers’ 53-man roster out of training camp. Running back is one position they have solid depth, led by Christian McCaffrey. They also drafted Jordan Scarlett out of Florida in the fifth round.
The upside for Holyfield is he will go into camp with a team and an opportunity to make an impression. Even if he can’t break through with the Panthers, other clubs will be keeping an eye on his performance to see how his skill set might be able to help them heading into the 2019 season.