AUBURN, Ala. — It seemed like the second Jeff Holland finished up at Auburn’s pro day, he was wearing a shiny, silver chain with the Chinese symbol for mud around his neck.
See, while Holland may be done tackling SEC quarterbacks for the Tigers, the Sensei Mud persona he took on (and then fully embraced) during his successful junior season isn’t going anywhere. Wherever Holland ends up, he still plans on unleashing a ceremonial bow after sacks or big plays.
“Oh yeah, it’s gotta come with me,” Holland said. “That’s my celebration and I’m going to do it.”
But how do NFL teams and owners, who’ve watched a range of celebrations over the years, feel about welcoming Holland and Sensei Mud to the league?
“Oh they love it. They love it. They love it,” Holland said. “They ask me where it came from. They like my personality. That’s a personality thing and you know, I’m going to take it with me.”
What NFL teams are probably most attracted to is the soon-to-be rookie’s confidence. It’s hard to miss.
I, Jeff Holland, am the best pass rusher available in the 2018 NFL draft @NFL
— 先生 泥 (@holland_jeffery) March 5, 2018
“You’ve gotta be confident to play football,” Holland said. “That’s one thing playing the sport of football. I think I’m the best at what I do. I think I’m the best pass rusher in this class. I just want the coaches to know that. They can turn on the film, the numbers don’t lie. They can turn on the film and see.”
Recent weeks haven’t been ideal for the first team All-SEC selection. Holland didn’t run as fast as he would have liked to at the NFL combine (4.79 seconds ranked 13th among 19 edge rushers in Indianapolis) and then didn’t bench at pro day because of a “strained pec.”
But average measurables aren’t ruining the process for Holland. Pro day was just another part of his dreams coming true. He was pleased with his showing on the Plains, which included a workout with former Auburn star and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Greene.
“Oh, I love it. I’m having fun,” Holland said. “I’ve been working for it all my life. This is what I love to do, so it’s my job. I think I did pretty well. I ran faster from what I did at the combine,” Holland said. “My numbers I put up, just working out, showing coaches I can drop into coverage. Just working out, showing my work ethic. Showing my relentlessness, showing how much I love the game.”
After Holland recovers from his upper body injury, he’s planning on a full workload in the coming weeks. Now that the combine and pro day are done, Holland is headed back to Boca Raton, Fla., where he’ll spend the coming weeks training with another former Auburn standout.
“Carl [Lawson] is actually there and he’s waiting on me,” Holland said. “We’re going to get back on the field because I’m tired of doing this 40-yard dash, 3 cone drill — that ain’t me. I’m going to get back on the field, work on my arsenal and try to get the best of my ability.”
“Oh, it’s great,” Holland said. “I’m just picking his brain while I’m with him. He’s teaching me a lot going into the NFL as a rookie, just things to prepare for and just being a player in the NFL.”