By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – This scouting report, that scouting report, this technique or that.
Sometimes even the highest levels of competition can still boil down to instinct and physical gifts.
Murphy Holloway, the career leading rebounder for Ole Miss basketball, believes his gifts might be better suited for football and is hoping to hear his name called some time as the NFL draft runs Thursday through Saturday.
Holloway may be the best draft prospect on campus right now. Certainly the most discussed.
He says he hasn’t given up on professional basketball but is getting feedback that make him believe he could have a more realistic path to the NFL.
“You read things. I think it’s the lack of height, can’t shoot well enough to play the 3 (small forward), things like that.”
Recently at the Portsmouth Invitational, an event designed for NBA scouts to get a look at draft hopefuls, Holloway was measured at 6-53⁄4 with his shoes off.
That’s a very limiting figure for a guy who aspires to make a living on the low block in the NBA. It’s not so limiting for a guy who could run pass routes as an NFL tight end.
Holloway has worked out for NFL clubs Tampa Bay and Baltimore and expects to run through drills for Philadelphia.
He was clocked at 4.7 in the 40-yard dash.
“I was just at an AAU event in Texas. I see names on a piece of paper, but the first thing I’m looking at in a guy is if he looks the part. Then let me see if he can do it,” Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy said. “Obviously Murph passes the eye test.”
Holloway was listed by Ole Miss this season at 6-7, 240 pounds. He says he weighed as much as 250 pounds during his season at South Carolina before transferring back to Ole Miss.
NFL scouts like him at the weight he now carries, he says.
“There’s been talk of me being selected, but that’s from people that have never seen me play football. They just hear things. Some of the scouts tell you, ‘Hey we can draft you.’ Some say, ‘Minicamp starts May 3 and go from there,’” Holloway said.
His most telling scouting report came in an impromptu conversation with a Boston Celtics representative in the airport coming back from Portsmouth.
“He was talking to me, said I had a good game, a good tournament. He said, ‘All the scouts are over there talking about you.’ I said, ‘What are they saying?’ He said, ‘that you should play football.’”
Holloway gave up organized football after his sophomore year of high school.
He had contact with NFL scouts before basketball season was complete. They encouraged him to “take care of business” with his senior season. He estimates he’s had contact with eight to 10 NFL teams.
He hasn’t completely given up on the idea of basketball but believes NBA successes would be linked to a perfect scenario and that the “6-6 guy” could be among the first cuts when things aren’t going well.
Holloway hasn’t given up on the idea of pro basketball in Europe but having two children in the States is reluctant to pursue that path.
He’s also not interested in the Canadian or Arena football leagues.
Holloway had 350 rebounds this season and led the SEC with 9.7 per game.
The transition he’s trying to make is not unheard of. It’s also not easy.
“For a guy that’s played college football in the SEC for four years it’s difficult. It’s the highest level,” Kennedy said. “When I look at Murph I see the same things you see, 6-6 and long, good hands. Can he run a route, catch a ball? All those things, I think they would be willing to explore.”