When Jimmy Holiday decommitted from TCU in late 2019 and signed with the Tennessee Vols, the plan was for the Mississippi native to stick at quarterback in Knoxville.
Holiday, a former three-star recruit, was a dual-threat quarterback out of high school. And he signed with the Vols with the expectation that he’d be playing quarterback for Jeremy Pruitt.
“They envision me doing a lot of different things that quarterbacks on their roster aren’t capable of doing with their legs and arm,” said Holiday to 247Sports after signing with UT.
Shortly after the start of fall camp last year, however, Holiday made the move to wide receiver.
It wasn’t a move that was forced on Holiday. The talented athlete saw a better opportunity for playing time at wide receiver (he was behind Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer, JT Shrout, and Harrison Bailey on the depth chart).
“It is something he wanted to do, he felt like he would have an opportunity to get on the field faster there,” said Pruitt last August.
That was probably a wise move by Holiday. I don’t think there’s any doubt he could be a productive quarterback for Tennessee. But the Vols actually have plenty of depth right now at the quarterback position. For that reason, it appears that Holiday will be sticking at wide receiver under new head coach Josh Heupel.
And fortunately for Holiday (and the Vols), Tennessee has the perfect wide receivers coach to help the talented wideout reach his ultimate potential.
Kodi Burns and Tim Banks meet with the media following practice https://t.co/xc68YEnze3
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) March 30, 2021
Tennessee wide receivers coach Kodi Burns’ path to playing wide receiver in the SEC was very similar to Holiday’s.
Burns, an Arkansas native, signed with Auburn as a quarterback. He started seven games for the Tigers as a sophomore in 2008. But before the 2009 season, Burns was moved to wide receiver.
The experience of being a quarterback throughout high school and into college should help Burns turn Holiday into a successful SEC wide receiver.
“I was a quarterback my entire life,” said Burns after Tennessee’s practice on Tuesday. “That’s what I did. That’s who I was. I had never caught a pass in my life. Once I was a junior in college, I actually ended up moving to wide receiver.”
“That transition for me was not that difficult because I understood coverages,” added Burns. “I understood the run game. I understood the pass game. I understood leverage. I understood what defenses were trying to take away and do. That made me more knowledgeable as a player.”
Burns noted this week that he actually likes to teach the wide receiver position from the perspective of a quarterback, which should further help Holiday’s development as a playmaker.
“I like to teach the wide receivers the position as a quarterback because I think it makes you a better wide-out when you truly understand the game as a quarterback and not just what you do,” explained Burns. “Understanding the big picture makes you a better player overall.”
If Burns is successful in developing Holiday, it will give the Vols an extremely dangerous weapon in the passing game. Holiday runs a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, which is the kind of speed that gives SEC defenses nightmares.
Maybe it’s not so bleak on Rocky Top after all.
Featured image via UTSports.com