COVINGTON, Ga. — Natorien Holloway will tell you that it was a single voice that ignited a fire for football in his belly.
With respect to Alcovy head football coach Chris Edgar, that voice doesn’t belong to him. Nor was it the voice of some public address announcer calling out his name after a big play, or some fan shouting his or her approval from the stands.
It was his mother’s.
“I was like four or five years old, and I was playing with the Central DeKalb team in rec league at the time,” Holloway said. “I remember scoring on a long run, and I remember looking to the side and seeing her and hearing her voice saying, ‘That’s my baby.’ And I waved at her, and that’s when I realized this is what I’m gonna stick to. This is for me.”
That realization was born out of a desire for Holloway to use football as a tool to shift the fortunes of his family. A Stephenson High transfer during his ninth grade season, Holloway isn’t afraid to admit that life hasn’t always come easy for him.
“I knew when I was little that I just liked the contact and the aggression with football,” he said. “It’s a way to help me escape from all the things I did when I was younger. Stuff like, I was out a lot. I had problems a lot with my pops, mom and just the household. It was a lot of struggles that some people can relate to, but most can’t. It was growing up with not having as many privileges as most have. But football helped me find myself.”
The junior tailback’s emergence may have also helped Alcovy find itself offensively.
The 5-foot-6, 170 pounder has rushed for 485 yards on 66 carries — that’s a 7.3 yards-per-carry average with three touchdowns. Those totals put him in the top 25 among leading rushers in the state, regardless of classification. He’s averaging 121.3 rushing yards per game, and has helped Alcovy carve out an identity as a physical, run-first offense.
Holloway said he could see that identity starting to take shape back in the summer.
“I worked hard with my lineman Jimmy Argueta,” he said. “Helped me a lot this summer. We lifted weights and put in extra work during summer workouts. It helped me because I just wanted to prove myself on the field that I can really make it.”
Holloway has turned heads with his hard-charging running style and penchant for dishing out contact as well as absorbing it. And if it looks like he’s running out of his mind sometimes, it may be because of what’s going through his mind as he totes the ball.
“While I’m running the ball, I’m thinking of it as how I always promised my mom I’d get her a house and a car, and promised my granny I’d get her whatever she wanted by being successful,” he said. “And I feel like if one man takes me down or tackles me, I feel like that one person is stopping me from making good on my promise to them.”
So now that Holloway’s starting to get the attention of Georgia high school football prognosticators and recruit watchers with his stellar early season performance, he says he just wants to keep reminding himself that the work isn’t done yet.
“This all is just another step ahead that helps me get to where I’m striving for,” he said. “It really feels good, but I won’t get the big head or anything like that. I’ll remain myself and remain humble and just make sure I make it. That’s my main goal.”