When Dax Hollifield committed to Virginia Tech, what excited Hokie fans the most was his talent as one of the highest-rated commits of the Justin Fuente era and one of the highest-rated linebacker commits for Virginia Tech since Bud Foster had become the Hokies’ defensive coordinator.
While his talent has shown for the Hokies this season, it has been his work ethic, hustle, and passion that have stood out the most not only to fans, but also to Bud Foster and Justin Fuente.
After Saturday’s game where Hollifield had 10 tackles in his first career start, Foster compared the true freshman to another former Hokie star because of his work ethic and never-stopping motor.
“Talking with our guys upstairs, they said Hollifield settled down after the first series or two. Hollifield has so much energy and he is one of those guys who is going to make the people around him better. He is such an all-in guy and I love what the kid is about. I love the energy he brings. If all the other players on the team buy-in like he does then we are going to give ourselves a chance to be a really good football team,” Foster said.
“He is a Sam Rogers kind of guy. Hollifield knows nothing but full speed and he has a tremendous work ethic. He has gotten better and he will continue to get better. Guys like Hollifield are going to make other guys better because of his demeanor.”
To be compared to Sam Rogers in terms of work ethic and intensity is a clear statement of the highest praise especially given the reputation Rogers had. However, it’s not a ridiculous comparison either and one that Justin Fuente also agrees with.
“I would say that is a good comparison. You’re talking about a kid (Dax Hollifield) whose enthusiasm is genuine. His passion for playing the game is real, it’s every day and it’s consistent. We’ve all come across people like that in our lives, not necessarily with football, whether it’s in your own profession or school work or whatever it is, that just have the ability to do their absolute best every single day, with every detail, continuing to push forward. Those people are remarkable and he’s one of them,” Fuente said.
“Much in the same way that I marveled at Sam [Rogers], in that he did it every single day. There were no good days and bad days with him. In our time so far with Dax [Hollifield], I’d say it’s similar. He’s just a very genuine person who pours his heart and soul into every single thing he does. He pours his heart and soul into the classroom, his grade checks are fantastic. He just has some really consistent, high energy and effort qualities that are unique.”
Things like work ethic, motor, and energy have shown throughout the past several months starting back in the spring when Hollifield did whatever he could to start to learn the Hokies’ defense, driving up to Blacksburg several times to visit VT practices and watch the defense alongside Bud Foster. That time clearly paid off with Hollifield continuing to push for a starting job that it may be hard to keep him from gaining after his strong first career start.
Beyond that, his passion and energy for the game is simply infectious as the star of the Hokies’ most famous GIF of the season dancing on the sidelines against Florida State. In addition, his energy can be seen quite clearly when he’s lined up ready to go simply waiting for the snap or the ball to be kicked off on kick coverage.
However, the biggest thing with Dax Hollifield is that even though he’s a true freshman, he’s already looking for ways to step up into his role in the heart of the Hokies’ defense and become a leader. Hollifield’s natural leadership abilities are one of the things that you hear most commonly praised now talking to those around the program in addition to his talent that has some believing Hollifield could end up becoming one of Virginia Tech’s all-time best linebackers.
It hasn’t taken Hollifield long to make a very strong impression on Virginia Tech’s coaching staff with a passion and work ethic that may have people asking who is the next Dax Hollifield in the future instead of who is the next Sam Rogers.