The tenth installment of this sixth edition of the Better Know a Buckeye series continues with one of the marquee names in a recruiting class big on quality but light on name recognition. Jalyn Holmes, a weakside defensive end from Norfolk, Virginia, committed to Ohio State in June of last year. A top player in a football-rich state, Holmes was a hot commodity on the Eastern Seaboard as a sophomore before getting Ohio State's attention as a junior. His recruitment to Ohio State was brief but intense. I retell it below.
Thereafter, this feature proceeds in the usual fashion. I discuss strengths and areas for improvement for Holmes as he enters into a deep defensive line rotation at Ohio State. I provide film and a projection of a redshirt status in 2014 before concluding with miscellaneous things about Jalyn Holmes you may find interesting.
High School: Lake Taylor High School; Norfolk, VA
Virginia is one of the best states for high school football for which not enough recognition is given. Just this recruiting year alone, the state boasts three five-star prospects. Those three are the country's top-rated strongside defensive end (Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama), the country's top-rated safety (Quin Blanding, Virginia), and the country's top-rated defensive tackle (Andrew Brown, Virginia). Holmes, who finished as the no. 4 prospect in Virginia this year, is also the country's no. 4 weakside defensive end prospect.
One recurring theme I see with prospects from Virginia that ultimately get Ohio State's attention is how early their recruitments start with ACC programs. As a sophomore, Holmes was already being hyped as one of the top 2014 prospects in the entire country, let alone the state. That he finished his sophomore season with 79 tackles, 40 TFLs, and 11 sacks underscored that hype. After his sophomore year, he already had offers from places like Clemson, Maryland, Miami, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech. Early into his junior season, he acquired offers from North Carolina and Southern California.
It wasn't until after his junior season that Holmes' offer sheet became more eclectic, befitting his status as one of the top 100 prospects in the entire country regardless of position. Early into 2013, Holmes earned offers from Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, and, somewhere along the way, Florida State and Ohio State.
The Florida State offer was an intriguing offer for Holmes. Like the Notre Dame offer, it was another offer that Holmes said he wanted. More than just the novelty of having one, Holmes identified as a Florida State fan in his youth and said having a Florida State offer would automatically make the Noles one of his leaders.
By the end of May, Holmes had a top three of Clemson, Florida State, and Ohio State.
From this perspective, it is any wonder that Ohio State had his verbal commitment less than a month later or was even in his top three. Holmes self-identified as a Florida State fan in his youth. The Clemson offer may have been a bigger get for Holmes. He acquired it in the summer after his sophomore year after a stellar showing at a football camp in Clemson. Ohio State did not seem to be on his radar until it became a fait accompli.
When asked why Ohio State appeared in his top three, Holmes talked about the coaching staff. By that time, two-time national champion head coach Urban Meyer just concluded his first year in Columbus with an undefeated campaign. What would have been his future position coach, Mike Vrabel, was one of the most visible linebackers in the National Football League of the past decade.
Since Ohio State was one of his top three choices despite being a surprise entrant, it earned an on-campus unofficial visit midway through June. Holmes was tweeting positive things about the trip as it was unfolding. It was apparently so positive that he gave the coaches a verbal commitment before he left to return home to Norfolk.
The news that Holmes had given Ohio State's coaches a verbal commitment before he left Columbus was leaked on Twitter on June 19th before Holmes had the ability to make it official himself on his own terms. On June 20th, Holmes announced his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes.
When he was asked why he selected the Buckeyes, Holmes talked about the experience in Columbus on his unofficial visit. Before he left, he talked with his mom about the trip. He said Ohio State appeared to have everything from world-class football facilities to a high-caliber educational pedigree. He even said Zach Smith and Mike Vrabel had become like uncles to him on the recruiting trail.
Holmes committed to Ohio State principally over Florida State, the childhood favorite.
Where He Excels
Holmes played a fair bit of tight end/slot receiver for his high school team. He could also conceivably slide into a three-technique defensive tackle. I think he's ultimately a long-term prospect at weakside defensive end.
Holmes has great length. He looks and plays every bit the 6-5 he is listed. In addition, he shows great athleticism and, importantly, speed at the point of attack. Holmes is already a competent edge rusher and speed rusher. He uses superior acceleration off the line of scrimmage to blow by an opposing tight end or offensive tackle.
He also shows some competence in gap discipline too. He plays with a good sense of control and gap discipline that somewhat belies prospects accustomed to using their speed to run around blockers.
Must Work On
Strength and "college football weight" are usually premiums for all prospects transitioning from high school football to college football. I think this is truer for Holmes than your average four-star weakside defensive end prospect.
More important than that, I get the sense that Holmes is very raw. I do not see much on film beyond the speed rush. That is fine at the high school level, but it would make him one-dimensional at the college level. Holmes needs to show some more "get-off" moves as he matures as a college football player.
This is a tough one. Even knowing Larry Johnson prefers liberal substitution on the defensive line more than his predecessor at the same position, I am going to guess Holmes redshirts in 2014. Ohio State's defensive line rotation is so deep entering this season that redshirting Holmes might be a good investment.
- 11W Community Interview.
- Holmes was regrettably suspended two games his senior season for an on-the-field incident that was shown on national television. Eleven Warriors interviewed him and allowed him to discuss the incident.
- His father, apparently the source of his early Florida State fandom, said it was bittersweet to see his son turn down a Florida State offer.
- Holmes played in the U.S. Army All-American Game, along with Dante Booker, Johnnie Dixon, Marcelys Jones, Demetrius Knox, Marshon Lattimore, Curtis Samuel, Erick Smith, and Damon Webb. In this exhibition, Holmes (in)famously had a 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown called back because of his premature celebration before he scored.
- He was a scare to decommit when Mike Vrabel announced he was joining the Houston Texans' coaching staff. Fortunately, that did not materialize.
- State champions his junior year, Holmes' senior season ended with a 28-0 loss to Dinwiddie in the quarterfinals of the state championship.