Newman senior Blayke Holbrook is the perfect example of a player with a team mentality.
The 5-foot-7, 160-pound linebacker/running back has been a jack of all trades through the first two games of the Comets, playing both positions as necessary, and also contributing on special teams.
But this week, his versatility will really be on display, as he joins the line as an undersized blocker.
“I think they saw my potential in blocking, so they’re going to try to put me at guard,” Holbrook said with a grin. “Hopefully I can be a good kickout-block guy. I’m small, but I’m going to try to do what I can to help our line be fast and hold my blocks to help the backs get through. I’m going to just try to protect the backfield.”
Playing offense, defense and special teams for the Comets (1-1), Holbrook says he’s always ready for the next challenge he faces on the field.
“Wherever the coaches want me to play, I’ll do it, anything I can to help the team,” he said.
That’s music to the ears of first-year head coach Mike LeMay, a former Newman player who knows the program’s tradition of players putting their egos aside and doing what’s best for the team.
“He doesn’t ever say anything negative about anything. He just wants what’s best for the team, and really, that’s essentially what Blue Machine football has always been,” LeMay said. “It’s what you can do to best contribute to the team, and Blayke does it all the time, in every single thing he does. He’ll pick up stuff when it needs to be picked up, he’ll jump in a spot when it’s empty, and the guy’s going to see playing time on both sides of the ball if he keeps doing that stuff.”
Holbrook doesn’t have a history of changing positions. Growing up, he always played running back and linebacker, so those are the two spots that come most naturally to him.
But the chance to get on the field and make an impact for the Comets has helped Holbrook keep an open mind.
“I haven’t really switched that many positions growing up. I did used to play D-line, but other than that, I really haven’t switched around,” Holbrook said. “But our coaches always tell us that we should just be there for the team, and you shouldn’t be upset if they switch your position. I’m not upset, because it’s still playing time that I get to be out on the field.”
While there are lots of players who are willing to move around the field to help the team, it isn’t as easy as it might seem. Working out at different spots in practice is one thing; being successful playing multiple positions in a game at the varsity level is a completely different story.
LeMay credits Holbrook’s mental game with some of that ability, but says it’s his internal drive that makes it work.
“He’s a smart player who understands the game pretty well, but it’s just his motor and how hard he goes all the time,” LeMay said. “He’s not the most daunting-looking big kid; he’s undersized to some extent, but man, he goes hard in everything he does, and that’s so nice to see, and it’s exactly what we want.”
While Holbrook said he’d prefer his natural positions at linebacker and running back, he’s looking forward to cutting his teeth in the trenches against Orion. He spent all week taking a crash course in blocking assignments, and he’s eager to see how it works out under the Friday Night Lights.
“I think I’d stick with my defense position, I really enjoy that. It’s always action, and I get to be there to fill holes and make tackles. And then offense, I think I’d stick with running back, just because that’s what I’ve been playing my whole life, so obviously I have more natural ability there,” Holbrook said. “But I’m going to try to work on my lineman skills as best I can, study everything, make sure I get it all right. It should be fun.”