CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Virginia football team’s plan to replace workhorse running back Jordan Ellis is ever evolving.
Coming out of the spring, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said sophomore newcomer Wayne Taulapapa was leading the competition while junior PK Kier was recovering from an injury.
At ACC Media Day on Thursday, Mendenhall said Kier and true freshman Mike Hollins are the favorites to pick up Ellis’ workload.
“Those two collectively, at least today, will become Jordan Ellis,” Mendenhall said. “It might change where one becomes Jordan Ellis, but right now it’s those two in that pistol back position.”
Kier has just 32 career carries over the past two seasons, but at 235 pounds, he’s built to be the physical back the Cavaliers’ running game relies on, and he graduated from Millbrook High School in Winchester as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,582 yards.
Hollins was one of Virginia’s first commits in its foray into Louisiana. He’s a three-star prospect and the No. 26 overall recruit in Louisiana, according to 247sports.
As a senior, he led University Lab to its second-straight state championship and earned game MVP honors after racking up 237 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. Mendenhall said Hollins is physically ready to play.
“He has size, speed and strength, and he came in at a level that looks ACC ready,” Mendenhall said.
As a whole, Mendenhall has been impressed with how physically prepared the freshman class is.
“Our entire class of first-years looks to be a strong class in every regard,” Mendenhall said. “That doesn’t mean they’ve played and it doesn’t mean I’m right yet, but at this point, they look capable.”