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(By Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Georgia wide receiver Jeremiah 'J.J.' Holloman had a lot to smile about after a productive and hard-fought day for the Red Team in the G-Day Game.

Georgia WR Jeremiah ‘J.J.’ Holloman showing that he’s in full bloom for the Bulldogs

Chip Towers

ATHENS — Jeremiah “J.J.” Holloman burst through for Georgia last season like a late-blooming flower. He’d been there all along, growing and budding, strong and green. But when he finally unfurled his petals midway through the fall, it was more spectacular than those outside his own family probably imagined.

A year later, there’s nowhere for Holloman to hide his splendor. His bright colors of experience and production stand out in vivid contrast against the mostly-green backdrop that is the rest of Bulldogs’ wide receiver corps.

About all this, Holloman is quite comfortable. Like a prize orchid that knows before it flowers how splendid it will be, Holloman expected to be in a place of prominence heading into his junior season at Georgia. And now that he is, he’s at ease with all that entails.

“My role has changed,” Holloman said after starring for the Red Team in Georgia’s G-Day Game this past Saturday. “I know that all the younger guys are looking at me now. I can’t let them down. I know I have to push myself to get better day in and day out. If I’m slacking one day, the younger guys will think it’s OK for them to slack. So, every day I have to come in and do my best and just keep pushing.”

With the possible exception of senior Tyler Simmons, Holloman is the surest thing the Bulldogs have to a reliable receiver that can be counted on to be in the rotation for the 2019 season. That was a given just based on his distinction as the leading returning wideout with 24 catches for 418 yards and 5 touchdowns last year.

But it’s important to understand that Holloman produced those numbers while having to defer a lot of snaps to the likes of Riley Ridley and Terry Godwin. At the end of it all, Holloman started just five games. It should be noted, though, that those starts all came at the end of the season, at which point his beauty as an athlete no longer could be denied.

But early on, Holloman was having to scrap for the reps that he got. So there was internal pressure to do with them as much as he could.

And he did.

Knowing he’d probably get a lot of action as a backup against Middle Tennessee State in the third game of the season, Holloman did and he made good on it. He led the Bulldogs with 3 receptions for 90 yards — including a 65-yard catch and run — and scored the first touchdown of his career.

Holloman notched another score the next week with a 61-yard TD catch on the road against Missouri. He’d record five more catches in SEC games against Tennessee and LSU the following weeks.

Then came what most view as Holloman’s coming-out party Game 8/Week 9 against Florida. Not only did he haul in four catches for 82 yards, but two of them were no-nonsense, leap-and-grab touchdowns against man coverage from the Gators’ highly-acclaimed cornerbacks. His 12-yard score on a fade route early in the third quarter proved to be the game-winner and unleashed a second-half offensive onslaught that saw the Bulldogs leave as 36-17 victors.

From that point on, Holloman established himself as a go-to guy for quarterback Jake Fromm whenever Georgia faced a must-have situation on offense. That goes double this season with Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman and Terry Godwin now catching passes in the NFL.

“He’s a model of consistency,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the G-Day Game. “He’s got really strong hands, does some nice things. As far as play-makers, we’re looking for all those guys to step up and play and do a good job.”

Holloman stood out even in what was limited work in this past Saturday. Playing the X receiver for the No. 1 offense, he had an all-out war with starting cornerback Eric Stokes whenever he was on the field.

Stokes got the best of him on the third play of the game when he picked off a 50-50 ball after Holloman slipped out of his break and Stokes returned it for a quick touchdown. But Holloman would get the last laugh, beating Stokes to the inside on a double move and leaping high to haul in Stetson Bennett’s pass for what would end up as a game-winning, 43-yard touchdown.

The difference in making that catch this year and last was it was expected.

“It was just a win situation for me,” said Holloman, who caught three passes 54 yards and also recorded several “plus-plays” on blocks.

So now Holloman finds himself in the role of leader for the Bulldogs. It’s not one that necessarily comes natural to him. Until now he’s been comfortable with quietly working on his own craft and not worrying much about what others were doing. Now the coaches have tasked him with showing a young group of wideouts how they should go about their business.

“Just leadership,” Holloman said when asked where he wanted to get better between now and next season. “I feel like our leadership stepped up a lot this spring semester. We’re pushing each other and making sure the younger guys are following the right examples and doing the little things. That’s our focus.

That he was one of the Bulldogs’ recipients for the Coffee County Hustle Award for spring practice is an indication Holloman was putting words into action.

Makes sense. A flower is not be able to tell you how it became so brilliant, but certainly can show you that it is.