Holley named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week

Taylor Rosen

Kent State sophomore safety Nate Holley was named Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week on Monday by the conference office.

Holley, a graduate of Whitmer High School in Toledo, finished the season opener on Aug. 30 with 18 tackles, which currently ties him for the nation’s Football Bowl Subdivision lead. Twelve of Holley’s tackles were solo tackles, and the safety also played a part in forcing three Ohio turnovers on three consecutive possessions.

“Every day in camp we had to get three turnovers or the bet was 50 push-ups,” Holley said at the postgame press conference. “It was a big emphasis in camp, and I think that played a big role in the game.”

Holley’s defensive performance ranks high up in the history of the program. His 18 tackles were the most in a game by a Kent State player since Cobrani Mixon in 2009. 

At the halfway point of the third quarter, Holley forced a fumble recovered by teammate Nate Terhune. During the next series, Holley recovered a fumble jarred loose by Jon Cunningham, and then he forced another fumble that was picked up by Najee Murray. 

“I think the opportunity just presented itself,” Holley said. “They ran the ball often, and most people know I’m more of a run safety. I didn’t feel on or anything like that. I just felt prepared, excited and ready to go.”

The final turnover led to Colin Reardon’s game-tying touchdown pass with just three minutes left to play. 

“With two of them, I just hit the guy,” Holley said. “I think I just got lucky by knocking the ball (on).”

After making only three starts toward the end of the 2013 season, Holley has become comfortable with his starting free safety role. The sophomore has also contributed to a number of crucial special teams plays as well.

“I am probably not the guy that studies tape the most, but certainly I’m not the guy who studies it the least,” Holley said of his recent work ethic.

Kent State will play South Alabama next at Dix Stadium Saturday. The game will start at 2 p.m.

Contact Taylor Rosen at [email protected].