“This is great exposure for our program to have two players sign with NFL teams and have a chance to earn a roster spot,” KSU head football coach Brian Bohannon said.
Just hours after the draft, Holland signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, April 27.
“It’s a great feeling,” Holland told the Marietta Daily Journal. “It’s a little weight off my shoulder.”
Holland was seen visiting the Saints in an Instagram photo on April 16. He is only the second Owl in KSU history to sign with an NFL team, following former Owl Dante Blackmon who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016.
Last season, Holland rushed for 949 yards on just 80 attempts, averaging 11.9 yards per carry. He became just the second player in Big South history with 70-plus yard touchdown runs in back-to-back weeks and led the team with 1,568 all-purpose yards. Holland finished his career with 2,431 rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns.
Holland helped KSU make back-to-back appearances in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs and land 19 consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 25, according to KSU Athletics.
At KSU’s 2019 Pro Day on Tuesday, March 12, Holland clocked in a 4.38 40-yard dash — the fastest at the Pro Day and faster than any other running back at the 2019 NFL Combine.
“I am unbelievably excited for Darnell; he deserves this,” Bohannon said. “This is a great fit for him with the Saints and we couldn’t be happier for him.”
Holland will be challenged with mirroring current starting running back for the Saints Alvin Kamara.
Sumpter joined Holland in becoming an NFL free agent on Sunday when he received a call from the Los Angeles Rams soon after receiving an invite to a mini-camp with the Tennessee Titans.
As a two-time All-Conference selection and former KSU wide receiver part of the original signing class, Sumpter helped the Owls win the game against No. 6 Jacksonville State at SunTrust Park last fall as KSU won the FCS Game of the Year 60-52 in five overtimes.
Also in attendance at KSU’s 2019 Pro Day, Sumpter’s vertical jump measured 39.5 inches and gained attention from the various NFL teams visiting that day.
According to KSU Athletics, Sumpter owns almost every receiving record in program history with 111 receptions, 1,989 receiving yards and 21 receiving touchdowns.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Justin to head out to Los Angeles and join a great organization,” Bohannon said. “He has been an unbelievable impact player for us and has definitely earned an opportunity to compete at the next level.”
Both Holland and Sumpter helped KSU capture its second straight Big South Conference championship last fall in just its fourth year of existence, and they will look forward to adding to the depth charts as they join the NFL.