An unassuming pioneer

By Ivan McDowell
Updated: December 26, 2007

ALABAMA — Sandwiched around Bobby Scott and Randy Wallace, former University of Tennessee quarterback Condredge Holloway, Jr.’s career could have easily been a mere footnote in the lore that is Volunteer football.

Instead of a blip on the gridiron radar screen however, Condredge became a part of history; a beacon of change that would reshape the landscape of the preeminent college football conference in America.

In 1972, he became the first black quarterback on Rocky Top; more importantly Holloway, Jr. became the first black quarterback in the history of the Southeastern Conference.

“It’s not something I worried about,” recounted Holloway, Jr. “I wasn’t asked to make any statements or take any stands.”

“My coach, Bill Battle paid me the greatest compliment when he said “If I could play quarterback at UT, I could play quarterback anywhere.”

In his three years as a Vol (1972-74), Holloway directed Tennessee to three bowl games, winning two, and an overall record of 25-9-2. He was the MVP of the 1972 Bluebonnet Bowl and the 1975 Hula Bowl.

He finished his career with 3,102 yards passing and 966 yards rushing for the 10th best mark in Vol history. He is 13th on the Vol passing list with 238 completions in 417 attempts and 18 touchdown passes.

Surprisingly, football wasn’t Holloway, Jr.’s favorite sport; he preferred baseball. After starring at Lee High, he was drafted as a shortstop by the Montreal Expos in 1971; Holloway, Jr. was Montreal’s first pick, and he was the fourth player selected overall.

However, Holloway, Jr.’s mother, insisting her son attend college, refused to sign the contract (Condredge was 17, too young to sign a contract under Alabama law) and instead he went to Tennessee.

“Baseball was my sport and still is,” says Condredge.

“My fondest memory in high school is winning the state championship in baseball. It was just a great moment for me and my teammates.”

Lee High held a pre-game ceremony at Milton Frank Stadium to retire Holloway’s jersey number 11. Condredge, surrounded by family and former coaches, received a framed jersey presented by Lee principal Paul Parvin.

Holloway took snaps from Parvin, a Lee center, while in high school. An obviously emotional Holloway, Jr. expounded. “It was a very, very special and humbling moment,” Holloway, Jr. said.

“I realize now how lucky I was to have all those people come to see me. All my coaches, except (the late Max Burleson), came to see me. My old center was there, too.

“I am truly a blessed man.”

While leading the Volunteers to three bowl game appearances from 1972-74, Holloway, Jr. also had a stellar career on the Vol baseball diamond. He garnered All-America and All-SEC honors in 1975 from his shortstop position and had a career batting average of .353.

He was then drafted by the NFL in 1975 — but only in the 12fth round, by the New England Patriots (few pro teams had black quarterbacks at that time and the opportunity wasn’t readily given). Instead, Holloway went to Canada playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders and starting in 1975.

“The Patriots and the Rough Riders offered me $25,000, but I chose to play in Canada because they gave me a chance to play only quarterback,” said Holloway, Jr.

Later, he moved to the Toronto Argonauts, where he continued to flourish, capturing the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award in 1982 and guiding the Argos to a Grey Cup championship the following season — Toronto’s first title in 31 years.

Condredge is the Argos all-time leading passer, amassing 3,184 yards in ’82. When he left Toronto in 1986, Condredge had established nine team records. Holloway finished his career with the B.C. Lions and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Condredge Holloway, Jr. was recently inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame after years of exclusion. He is currently the assistant athletic director at the University of Tennessee.