Holley named MAC East Offensive Player of the Week

Henry Palattella

Kent State coach Paul Haynes surprised all of Northeast Ohio when he started Junior then-running back Nick Holley at quarterback against Akron on Saturday. Holley—who hadn’t played quarterback since his senior year of high school in 2012—didn’t let his coach down, as he threw for 285 yards and ran for 117 yards in Kent’s 31-27 loss to Akron, a offensive outpouring was good enough for Holley to be named the Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week.

“I think (Nick) played unbelievable,” Paul Haynes said. “…(You want) your best player touching the ball as much as possible, and that’s what we did.”

Saturday’s game put Holley in elite company, as he became the first Kent State player since Josh Cribbs in 2008 to amass over 400 total yards on offense. Holley also became the first Flash to rush for over 100 yards and throw for over 100 yards since Julian Edelman in 2008.

Both Edelman and Cribbs went on to find success in the NFL, Edelman is a wide receiver on the Patriots and one of the best receivers in the NFL, while Cribbs is tied for the most NFL career record with right kickoffs taken back for touchdowns. Cribbs was the Grand Marshal at Saturday’s Homecoming parade.

Haynes decided to play Holley at quarterback due to quarterbacks Justin Agner and Mylik Mitchell each sustaining season-ending injuries. Agner suffered an undisclosed injury in the season-opening game against Penn State, while Mitchell suffered a serious wrist injury against Alabama.

“To me, (playing quarterback) is all about your preparation and having coaches that believe in you,” Holley said. “Coach Haynes believed in me and gave me a shot. How can I go out there and not give everything i’ve got for (Coach Haynes.)”

Holley had been a key contributor for Kent ever since he made his debut in 2014. Holley led the Flashes with 256 rushing in yards in 2014, but he only gained 46 rushing yards in 2015 before his season was cut short by an injury suffered against Minnesota three games into the season. Holley came back in a big way this year, even before he ended up behind center. He was the Flashes punt returner for the first four games of the year, and he also came into Saturday’s game as the Flashes leading receiver. Holley has now thrown, rushed, and caught a touchdown on the year.

Haynes said that after the game Saturday, Holley will be the Flash’s starting quarterback going forward.