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Traeshon Holden, like most highly-rated, highly-motivated recruits that come to Alabama, needed to adjust his personal goals when he was a freshman.
Before he made the cross-country trip to Tuscaloosa from sun-kissed Harbor City, Calif., Holden was the star offensive weapon for Narbonne High. He led the Gauchos in touchdowns and all-purpose yards. Why wouldn’t he continue it with the Crimson Tide? Instead, Holden quickly found himself behind a future-Heisman Award winner and multiple first-round picks on the depth chart.
Quickly, Holden’s expectations had to be tempered, which meant waiting for his shot. Which meant the speedster needed to learn how to be “patient.”
“I just waited my turn and just worked,” Holden reflected on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Holden went from filling in for an injured Jaylen Waddle, to catching 21 passes as a sophomore to becoming a starter this fall. Through No. 2 Alabama’s 3-0 start, Holden has been the team’s leading receiver in yards (169) and touchdowns (three).
Though the Tide brought in Tyler Harrell from Louisville to threaten opposing secondaries, it’s been Harrell who has the longest reception by an Alabama wideout with Harrell sidelined with an injury. Against Louisiana-Monroe, Holden came back to catch a dart from Bryce Young and sped past three defenders to open the scoring in a 56-point blowout.
Holden attributed his maturation to having “long talks” with his family and relying on his relationship with Young. He and Alabama’s quarterback, another California native, roomed together and had the shared experience of sitting on the bench while upperclassmen carried the Tide offense. They’d stay after practice and watch film together to develop chemistry.
“We’ve been doing this since high school. So it’s just regular.
“When we stayed together, I used to talk to him about all the things I felt like I was going through,” Holden said. “He helped me a lot with that little process and everything else.”
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This past May, Holden, a former four-star recruit, went back home and readied himself knowing the opportunity this season brought. Now a junior, Holden has found himself the elder statesman in a position group still figuring itself out after the departures of Jameson Williams and John Metchie. He now has freshmen like Kobe Prentice and Isaiah Bond looking up to him on the depth chart and as a mentor.
“It’s just like thinking I’m ready,” Holden said. “I knew at the time as I grew I wasn’t ready for that moment. Like seeing Smitty (DeVonta Smith), the role he had, I’m glad I got to watch him just to see how to step into that role.”
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at NAlvarez@al.com
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