Quay Holmes admits he can’t resist looking at the record book.
Who can blame him, as quickly as his name has been rocketing up the list of East Tennessee State’s career rushing leaders.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Holmes says. “I have started looking at that. It’s just a part of the legacy I’m trying to leave, so I noticed that.”
What Holmes can figure out is that only two players — Brandon Walker and Brian Edwards — have run for more yards in an ETSU uniform than he has.
Holmes, a junior who has two more full seasons to play in addition to the rest of this spring, is coming off back-to-back games where he rushed for 197 yards against Western Carolina and 135 more against VMI. That left him with 2,622 career yards, good for third place in ETSU history.
Up next on the list is Edwards, who ran for 2,930 yards from 1994-98.
Walker holds the record at 4,095, earned from 1996-99, and Holmes has a legitimate shot at surpassing him. He needs 1,473 more yards to catch Walker and could have as many as 24 more games — not counting any playoff appearances — to do it. He’d have to average 62 yards a game to break the record. He’s averaging 110 this season.
“One of the great things about him to this point is that he’s been up to the task,” ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. “He’s been very durable. I don’t remember him missing one day of practice, really getting nicked up too much. I’m sure he’s been pretty sore and hurting at some point, but he just shows up and goes to work and gets it done each week.”
Holmes’ output against a previously undefeated VMI team on Saturday earned him the Southern Conference player of the week award. He was also chosen as the FCS national player of the week. The Bucs topped the Keydets 24-20 to improve to 4-1. They’re now ranked 21st in the STATS poll and 20th in the coaches poll.
When Holmes is punishing defenders with his physical style of running, the ETSU defense gets a rest. Every time he moves the chains, they get another breather.
“I’m his biggest fan,” ETSU linebacker Jared Folks says. “One thirty-five isn’t enough for me. I want more. We love to see the clock run. Keeping their offense on the sideline is the best defense, so we like it when Quay and the O-line get going and we like cheering for them.”
Holmes, a 6-foot-1, 216 pounder from Power Springs, Georgia, is also one of the top kickoff return men in the country. The whole package makes him rank third in FCS in all-purpose yards at 184 per game.
“That’s an extra hit,” Holmes said of handling kick return duty. “I’m glad that Coach trusts me to be back there. When I’m back there they’re expecting a good play. I know that he wants the ball in the hands of people that can make plays, so just for them to have me back there shows that he has a lot of trust in me.”
ETSU plays at Mercer on Saturday in its final SoCon game of the spring season. A win would keep the Bucs’ hopes alive for a conference championship and at minimum give them a chance at earning an at-large bit to the FCS playoffs.
“I think this league is pretty strong and I think we have played pretty well,” Sanders said. “We lost to Furman. We let we let that game get away from us. When you try to win a championship, you’ve got to try to win each week. We let one get away from us. Hopefully we’ll bounce back, find a way to win every other game we play and then hope for the best. I think the Southern Conference is really good. I think it’s one of the better conferences in America. I think it’s very well respected.”