Jump to content

Fans embrace Sensei Mud personality


Recommended Posts

Jeff Holland relishing Auburn fans' embrace of Sensei Mud personality

Auburn linebacker Jeff Holland (4) celebrates a sack against Georgia during the first half Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)
Auburn linebacker Jeff Holland (4) celebrates a sack against Georgia during the first half Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)(Julie Bennett)

These days, it's hard for Jeff Holland to go anywhere without being recognized as his on-field persona, Sensei Mud.

Holland, who has been Auburn's pass-rushing master, leads the team in sacks this season. He adopted the nickname Sensei Mud after spending the offseason learning hand-to-hand combat from performance training specialist Ben Creamer, and as Holland has excelled on the field, teammates, fans and others around Auburn have embraced his alter ego.

"It's starting to pick up around campus now," Holland said.

Whether it's walking around campus, walking to the stadium during Tiger Walk or during the game following a big play by Holland, fans are showing their respect to the Sensei by performing his signature celebration, a Wing Chun bow.

They've had plenty of opportunities to do it, too. Holland has nine sacks on the year, which leads the SEC and is tied for seventh nationally. It's also 2.5 sacks shy of Nick Fairley's single-season Auburn record of 11.5 in 2010.


Meet Sensei Mud, Auburn's pass-rushing master

Meet Sensei Mud, Auburn's pass-rushing master

Auburn leading pass-rusher Jeff Holland has turned to hand-to-hand combat techniques to improve his ability to get into opposing teams' backfields.


The junior Buck has added another three tackles for loss on top of that, a whopping 16 quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles this season. During Auburn's 40-17 domination of previously top-ranked Georgia on Saturday, Holland had one sack, three hurries and five total tackles as the Tigers' defensive front imposed its will on the Bulldogs' offense, bottling up running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and flummoxing freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, who was sacked four times for the game.

"Jeff is a dynamic player, a lot of times we were putting him back and (Georgia was) chipping on him," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "We felt like if he could put constant pressure on the quarterback, we could stop the running game, make (Fromm) respond a little bit to our defense and our crowd."

Indeed, Holland's character has been fully embraced around campus, with fans bowing to him in the same manner his teammates do following a big play. Auburn has also gone all-in on Sensei Mud in recent weeks, with graphics posted on the team's official Twitter feed, in-game animations on the Jordan-Hare Stadium video board and even an SEC Network featurette on Holland that debuted this week.

"I love it, man. I love it," Holland said. "The fans bowing, it's just great. It gives me a lot of energy. Walking down Tiger Walk, seeing the fans bow, that gives me joy."

Plenty seems to give Holland joy these days, not just his acumen at rushing the passer and the response from fans. He thoroughly enjoyed Auburn's dismantling of Georgia, dancing with fans in the stands after the final whistle and donning the same sombrero quarterback Jarrett Stidham rocked after the Tigers' win against Ole Miss last month.

"Jeff loves to compete, loves to compete and he loves football," defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said. "He really, really loves football. you hear that but sometimes you wonder because of what's happened in football, in terms of all the recruiting services and everybody made a superstar before they ever get here, then about halfway through the process here then everybody wants to say they're a first-round draft pick. So now it was about 'I become famous with the stars' and now 'I want to become rich with the money.'

"We're stuck in the middle of that. We're stuck in the middle of that and occasionally you'll get guys that you say do they really love the game?... He plays the game because he loves to play football. When you have a work ethic like he's got, and love to compete like he loves to compete. It doesn't shock you where he is at all."

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...