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Nick Holley embracing switch to quarterback at Kent State

07/26/2017, 2:15pm EDT
By By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Whitmer product key to Golden Flashes season, coach says


Kent State quarterback Nick Holley under pressure from BGSU defenders during a game last season. BLADE PHOTO

CANTON, Ohio — Call it a typo if you like. Perhaps it’s a glitch, or a clerical error.

Whitmer High School product Nick Holley was listed as a running back while representing Kent State at the Mid-American Conference football preview held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Wednesday.

But last season Holley took over as quarterback for the Golden Flashes, and is expected to continue in that role this fall.

“I’ve been pushing [to play quarterback] since I got [to Kent State],” Holley said. “I love having the ball in my hands and being in control.

“I love being able to impact the team in a positive way. And I love being in front of the team, giving leadership — whether it’s cracking a joke or pushing them through a tough time.”

RELATED: Ex-Whitmer football star Nate Holley working to overcome past

Holley spent a large portion of his career as a running back before injuries forced KSU coach Paul Haynes and his staff to hand the 5-10, 198-pounder the QB job midway through last season.

“Ever since he joined us, he had pushed for that job,” Haynes admitted. “But last year we lost our two starting quarterbacks, and our staff asked about installing him at quarterback. …

“We brought him in to tell him, and he got a big smile on his face. And he got us rolling.”

Holley started at quarterback for the Golden Flashes in their MAC opener against Akron, and by season’s end he had thrown for 868 yards and four touchdowns while also leading the team with 920 rushing yards and 10 more scores.

As a running back he also caught two TD passes, meaning Holley had a hand in 16 of the 26 touchdowns the KSU offense accumulated last season.

“I had not thrown a ball in three or four years,” Holley admitted. "Playing quarterback in the spring and summer, I’ve been able to build some chemistry throwing to the guys.

“Plus, I’ve played their position, so I can help them out.”

Haynes said having Holley play quarterback through the spring and summer should result in even better play.

“We have high expectations for Nick, because we’ll go as high as he goes,” Haynes said. “He’s the ultimate competitor and a tough guy.

“There’s nobody on our team that questions whether he’ll be ready to play on a Saturday. He’s the kind of guy you want at that position.”

In the MAC's pre-season poll, the Golden Flashes were picked to finish sixth in the six-team East Division, receiving just 36 points – five fewer than Buffalo in fifth.

But the poll result did not diminish Holley’s excitement for the coming season.

“I thought, ‘They must be counting backwards,’” he said with a smile. “I expect every year to win, and I feel we’re putting things together.

“I’m going to do everything I can to win, and so will the guys around me.”

Holley said the lack of respect reminded him of his days at Whitmer.

“We always seemed to be the underdog, even though we were undefeated,” Holley said. “You have to embrace that role.

“And since nobody expects anything from you, it’s a good place to be.”

Contact John Wagner at jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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