Melvin Holland Jr.’s durability key to another Briar Woods title run


Briar Woods wide receiver Melvin Holland Jr. scores a touchdown against Broad Run. (John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

When Melvin Holland Jr. leaves Briar Woods after a long practice in the late afternoon, fried foods are not on the dinner menu.

His father, Melvin Holland Sr., doesn’t allow fried foods to enter his diet, and instead chooses to bake chicken and fish for his son’s post-practice meal. Holland Jr. often wakes up to a protein shake and fruit is always available in the household.

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Holland Jr.’s nutrition has allowed him to not miss a start this season for the fourth-ranked Falcons. He rarely misses a down starting at wide receiver and linebacker, and he returns kicks for the Falcons.

“I try to help my team any way I can,” Holland Jr. said. “Anywhere I’m playing, I’m going to give 100 percent. I just love the game, I will play anywhere I’m asked.”

This season he’s returned an interception for a touchdown, forced a fumble, and his 40 tackles rank sixth on the Falcons. He’s also returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.

In his first year as a starting receiver, the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder has turned into quarterback Trace McSorley’s favorite target. Holland Jr. has a team-high 33 receptions and eight touchdown catches.

“He’s fast and athletic. He can go up and jump over a defender and get a ball,” McSorley said. “He runs really good routes, which is a huge benefit to us.”

Holland’s 33 catches are a huge statistical increase after a 2012 season in which he caught just two passes. Then, he was playing behind 2012 First Team All-Met tight end Cam Seringe and senior Devin Ramos. But Holland didn’t complain about not getting the desired time at receiver, instead he made his mark at linebacker where he is a two-year starter.

His dedication to the team did not go unnoticed by the coaches, and when summer practices began, he saw the offensive reps he coveted.

“He played really well on defense, and when we brought him in on our empty set he showed he could be a really good receiver,” McSorley said. “When camp started we knew he was our solid No. 1 receiver and our biggest outside threat.”

His stellar play and 4.47 40 speed has earned him scholarship offers from Old Dominion, James Madison, Towson, VMI, Hampton, Toledo, UNC-Charlotte and Liberty.

Holland wants to major in physical therapy in college, and that program will play a major part in his decision making process.

“At the end of the day it’s where I can get the best education,” Holland Jr. said. “I know I can’t play football all my life.”

With the Falcons hunting an unprecedented fourth consecutive state title, he is waiting until the conclusion of the season to mull over his offers. But first Briar Woods will have to get past Virginia 5A North first-round opponent and Potomac District foe Potomac Falls (4-6) on Friday.

“We can’t take anything for granted, and we can’t make mistakes like we used to, especially against these good teams,” Holland said. “We just have to stay focused and play our game.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 94

The number of scholarship offers Woodbridge Senior High DE Da’Shawn Hand had to decide between to get to his final three of Florida, Michigan and Alabama. The No. 1 recruit in the nation according to Rivals.com will put Woodbridge High in the spotlight with his decision this afternoon. The Post will be streaming Hand’s decision live beginning at 12:30.

BREAKFAST LINKS:

–Are oral commitments really final? From basketball to football, Brandon Parker takes a look at oral commitments that aren’t anywhere near binding. 

–In Maryland 4A volleyball, Severna Park serves its way into Saturday’s state final against Dulaney, which swept High Point.

Virginia and Maryland football playoffs begin tomorrow. Follow links to view the matchups.

–Here’s the All-Met Watch for the final week of the regular season.

PHOTOS FROM LAST NIGHT:

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Chelsea Janes · November 13, 2013