Boston College defensive end Max Holloway was out for dinner in Boston one evening with his grandfather when the two of them were swept ahead of a long line of hungry people waiting to eat and quickly ushered to a table with quality service.
No, it wasn’t because Holloway was recognized as a backup defensive end for the Eagles.
It was because Holloway’s maternal grandfather, Johnny McKenzie, won two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins during his 19-year career in the NHL.
“Everybody kept coming up to us and talking to him,” Holloway said. “That was the first time I realized how big he was. In Boston, whenever I mention his name, people are like, ‘That’s your grandfather?! No way!’ I’ll be walking downtown and people will come up to me and say, ‘Oh you’re the hockey player’s grandson who plays for BC, right?’”
Never mind that Holloway's father played eight seasons with the Patriots and two with the Raiders, or his brother, David, played for Maryland and the Arizona Cardinals.
In case you missed it, Boston is a hockey town.
Football, though, is Holloway’s first love, and his father was the biggest influence on his career. Now, because the Eagles have to replace two starters on the defensive line, Holloway will finally be given a chance to earn a spot in the starting lineup. There is little choice but for Holloway’s role to increase. He has set several personal goals, including leading the team in sacks.
“I also want to gain the coaches’ trust the most,” he said. “That’s my biggest goal. I want them to be able to count on me and be able to put me in games at crucial times. I just want to get their trust. If I can do that, I’d feel like this season -- or even camp -- would be an accomplishment.”
Holloway played in 11 games last year and finished with 16 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and a sack. He switches sides depending upon where the tight end goes. Alex Albright plays the side opposite the tight end. Holloway was in the rotation last year, but saw his playing time decrease in the second half of the season. He said it was a learning experience, and he doesn’t feel any pressure to live up to his lineage.
“I never felt pressure because my dad was real good with never pressuring me or my brothers to do anything we didn’t want to do,” said Holloway, who is one of eight siblings from two marriages. “Even now when I call my dad and I’m complaining about football or something, he’ll just start laughing a little bit and he’ll say sarcastically, ‘So you wanted to play football,’ as if saying, 'I told you it wasn’t going to be easy.' He’s got no sympathy in that area.”
Nor does his brother, David, who was a linebacker for the Terps.
“This year I played a lot during the Florida State game, and after the game I had about 15 texts from him saying, ‘You could’ve had a sack there, could’ve had an interception, stuff like that,’” said Holloway.
If Holloway has it his way, he’ll be making those game-changing plays this fall. And if he does, he could play a part in keeping BC’s defense among the nation’s best.
“I think we’ll be just as good as every year, ranked in the top defenses,” Holloway said. “Our coach is real big on saying even though people leave, you’re still wearing the same jersey and you’re still expected to do the same job. He says the faces and names change, but everything is still expected of us. We still want to be ranked as one of the best defenses in college football.”
And that counts for something, even in a hockey town.