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Basalt’s Holloway signs with Texas

Ben Husband

Tillman Holloway will receive his diploma from Basalt High School in May, but he earned a scholarship as a standout football player for Faith Christian High School in Denver.

On Thursday, the mammoth 6-foot-3 inch, 300-pound defensive lineman signed a national letter of intent to play football at the University of Texas – home of this year’s Heisman Trophy winner Rickey Williams who became the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher.

“I’m excited,” he said after signing to play at Texas, where he will receive a full-ride scholarship. “I’m really looking forward to playing football at Texas.”

“He was the best player this school has ever had,” Faith Christian coach Clint Fick said. “He was able to dominate at this level for us and he was the difference in us winning the state title. If we hadn’t had him, we would have still been a good team, but not a state championship team.”

Holloway, whose family lives in Basalt, has been one of the state’s top defensive lineman over the last two years at Faith Christian.

“Football is a big part of my life,” he said. “I’ve always had a vision in the back of my mind that I would play in college.”

Holloway’s longtime vision has turned to reality.

But he said it wasn’t until the University of Nebraska offered him a scholarship at summer camp that he knew he would play major college football.

“That made me a lot more serious about football,” he said. “I knew then that I would play somewhere.”

During his final year at Faith Christian, Holloway received offers from a slew of schools that included Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Colorado State, Colorado, Air Force, Michigan State, Arizona and Oklahoma.

Holloway said he chose the University of Texas because of “heritage.”

His grandfather, Bud McFadin, was an All-American lineman as a Longhorn and went on to be an all-pro lineman in the NFL during stints with the then-Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and the Denver Broncos.

Both of Holloway’s parents and aunt and uncle also went to Texas.

“It was a pretty easy decision for me to make,” Holloway said.

The University of Texas reportedly has one of the nation’s top recruiting classes this year that includes the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms and three other Parade High School All-Americans.

He said the recruitment process was stressful, but he tried not to let it get in the way of his responsibilities as a football player.

“You just have to play your season and not worry about the press or the college situation,” he said. “You can’t let the pressure of all of that get to you – you have to relax and everything will work itself out.”

But he also said being recruited was fun at times.

“I was honored to be looked at by so many schools,” he said.

Holloway said he has no apprehension of making the leap from high school football to college football.

In fact, he said he’s going to Texas with the hopes of starting next year.

After the football season at Faith Christian, the senior transferred back to Basalt High School to finish school – living with his parents and graduating with his valley friends. He had played football at Basalt when he was a sophomore, before the Longhorns dropped varsity football.

Spending the last two years away from home was tough at Holloway, who also home schooled for awhile, at times, but he had ways to overcome the pain of being away from his parents.

“When I was home schooled, my mother did a good job of teaching me how to deal with a lot of stuff in a positive way,” he said. “It was hard at times – all the people who I loved dearly were here in Basalt, and I was in Denver.”

Holloway said living with his sister, Susan and brother-in-law Craig, “helped me get by being away from my parents.”

Earlier this year, he helped the Faith Christian Eagles win the Class 3A state title en route to receiving all-state and all-Colorado honors as one of the state’s elite linemen.

It marked the first time in Colorado that a high school won a state title after moving up in classifications. The Eagles moved up from Class 2A to 3A this year.

Last year, the Eagles, 2A’s top-ranked team, fell short of the state title when they lost to Burlington in the quarterfinals.

“He was a great kid to coach,” Fick said. “He had a real good sense of humor and he was a great player for us – a kid like that doesn’t come around that often, so it’s going to be real tough to see him go.

“He was one in a million,” Fick added.


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