Keith Holcombe named natural-born leader by teammates

Keith+Holcombe+named+natural-born+leader+by+teammates

CW / Sam MacDonald

Tyler Waldrep

Former Alabama offensive lineman Danny Holcombe, like most fathers, gave his son advice from time to time as he grew up.

Some of it was simple — ‘If you look good, you play good.’ — but that doesn’t mean his son didn’t take it to heart.

On game days, Alabama linebacker Keith Holcombe puts on his pads, cleats and his crimson jersey just like everyone else on the team, but he adds a little something extra for his dad. He wears eye black.

“I mean I’m not the biggest guy, so I gotta improve on my intimidation factor,” Holcombe said. “I put a little bit of eye black on to help with that.”

On Saturday, Holcombe recorded a career-high in tackles (four solo and two assists) against the Kent State Golden Flashes. Fellow linebacker Reuben Foster finished with two solo tackles and five assists and was the only one who had a hand in more tackles than Holcombe.

Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said Holcombe will rotate in with the first team defense during practice sometimes, but when he does, the defense doesn’t miss a beat.

Holcombe is only a redshirt sophomore now, but Allen already views him as one of the next great linebackers who will step up to lead Alabama’s defense one day.

“He’s a very influential guy, I guess would be a good word to use,” Allen said. “A lot of guys can rally around him and follow him. He’s just a natural-born leader.”

Holcombe isn’t just leading the young guys; he’s having an effect on current team leaders like Foster.

“He’s just got one speed,” Foster said. “He motivates me. He’s got one speed. He don’t let nothing get him down. I’ve never seen someone like that.”

To his teammates, Holcombe is just another guy who’s more than capable of making plays, but they know he walks out of the tunnel in Bryant-Denny Stadium with more than just eye black added to the standard gear.

He also wears an insulin pump to help manage his diabetes.

“Based on how he plays, you couldn’t even tell he has diabetes,” Allen said. “So, you have to give him a lot of credit.”

The local kid from Hillcrest High School has overcome more than just diabetes to realize his dream of playing both football and baseball for the Crimson Tide. He has also fought through injuries and hasn’t let concerns with playing time keep him from doing what he came here to do — have fun.

“I remember growing up with my family, we used to always go to the bonfire outside the library,” Holcombe said. “I just remember that from when I was very young. But I know come Saturday, it’s gonna be a great environment, great fans, and I can’t wait to get out there under the lights for an SEC game. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”