Kennesaw State running back Darnell Holland first picked up a football as an energetic seven-year-old, not envisioning glory or fame, but just looking for another opportunity to hang out with friends. What started off as innocent fun eventually developed into respectable talent.
By the time Holland was in high school, it was no secret that he had the gift of speed and agility. During his senior year at Bowdon High School, he rushed for 1,894 yards on 147 carries and scored 25 touchdowns, according to KSUOwls.com.
After putting up such impressive numbers in high school, it’s no wonder that he caught the eye of KSU head coach Brian Bohannon.
Getting quality minutes his freshman year, Holland was able to quickly gain the trust of his teammates and coaches, gaining more responsibility his sophomore season. He averaged nine yards per carry, ranked fifth in total offense and third in rushing touchdowns for KSU, quickly solidifying his role as an impact player.
Holland’s breakout performance against Furman University, ending in a 52-42 victory for the Owls, exposed his talent to everyone. Holland rushed for 123 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns to hold off Furman in his career-best game.
“After talking with the coaches, I have to be more consistent,” Holland said when asked how his role on the football team this year would be different from last year. “I also have to understand that other guys are looking up to me to take care of business.”
The Owls’ first game of the 2017-18 season is Thursday, Aug. 31, against the Samford University Bulldogs. Although Holland knows every game is important, he is definitely counting down the days until an Oct. 15 match up against Big South Conference rival, Liberty University. KSU fell to Liberty in a disheartening 21-36, homecoming loss last season.
“I definitely feel like we are in a better position this year to not let those same teams beat us,” Holland said. “Playing at Liberty is going to be a huge, huge game for our program and for this team, but Samford is our number one priority right now.”
In only its second year, KSU football made it to the Big South Conference Championship. Although they fell to Charleston Southern University in last year’s title game, Holland not only said the Owls will make it back, but he guarantees a conference championship win this year. This is a bold prediction, but the kind of talk Owl Nation likes to hear from their star running back.
In addition to being on the football team, Holland is pursuing a sociology degree.
“My number one [aspiration] is to graduate college and to be able to support a family in the future,” Holland said. “Whether that’s football or teaching, my goal is to find something I love and stick with it.”
Whether he chooses to pursue a career in education or playing professional football, the future is bright for Holland. With his “win the day, everyday” work ethic, the sky is the limit for what he can achieve.
Holland’s final message for Owl Nation heading into football season is, “Let’s fill The Nest up this year! Let’s pack ‘the bank!’”
Everyone can watch Holland and the rest of the KSU Owls football team take on Tennessee Tech University, Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., in the first home game of the season.