Freddie Holly III is gone … sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. It’s just that the University of Hawaii running back with loads of potential would like to be known as Fred from now on rather than Freddie.
After an off-season of discontent for some (former) Warriors, Holly’s happiness to be here never waned — and on Friday he was elated with the start of practice.
“When I talk to my family I always say there’s no place I’d rather be,” said Holly, who will likely get plenty of opportunity this season after limited play in just two games as a second-year freshman in 2017.
After redshirting in 2016 and sitting behind the prolific Diocemy Saint Juste last fall, Holly’s time appears to be now.
He enjoys practice, and has shown flashes of brilliance since his arrival after starring as one of the most productive prep backs in California. He ran for 5,752 yards and 69 touchdowns at Norte Vista High School in Riverside. At one point, he rushed for 200 yards or more eight games in a row.
Holly said he didn’t mind the heat of Friday’s 2 1/2-hour practice at the Manoa grass field. To him, this is the fun part after offseason workouts.
“There’s a lot of excitement coming back out here,” he said. “We get our reward now after all the blood, sweat and tears.”
When Nick Rolovich became head coach at his alma mater in 2016, Holly was one of his first recruits. Holly was originally committed to Arizona State, but a coaching change in Tempe opened the door for UH.
After Hawaii’s disappointing 3-9 season and its seventh year in a row without a winning record, starting quarterback Dru Brown and three-year starting receiver Dylan Collie both transferred with a season of eligibility remaining. They weren’t the only players to leave Manoa — and some assistant coaches did, too.
But Holly never considered moving on; some wouldn’t have blamed him if he had, especially since he didn’t get on the field more often despite his considerable talent.
“Honestly, it’s the same reason I came here: to change the program,” Holly said. “Just because you struggle at first doesn’t mean you won’t see daylight eventually.”