Urban Meyer Considers Jalyn Holmes a Starter, Even Though He's Never Started

By Kevin Harrish on July 31, 2017 at 10:10 am
Jalyn Holmes has the talent of a starter but has never started a game.

"Holmes is a starter even though he doesn't have a start."

Ohio State's spring football position-by-position breakdown put it pretty simply: the Buckeye defensive ends are so good, they don't have just two starters — they have three.

It seems ridiculous and excessive to claim someone a starter even though they have yet to start a game in their college football career. Really, though, that's the only fair way to refer to Jalyn Holmes because calling him as a backup is a little disingenuous.


Holmes' role on the team goes far above replacing someone if they were ever to suffer an injury. As arguably the most versatile lineman on the team capable of playing both inside and out, Holmes is a vital part of the Silver Bullets defense every game.

The numbers reflect that. In 2016 Holmes had the team's third-most tackles for a loss with 8.5, tied for the the third-most quarterback hurries with three, and tied for fourth in sacks with two. In fact, Holmes was so good last season he even felt it necessary to announce his return to Ohio State, hinting that he considered entering the 2017 NFL Draft.

Holmes has a skill set the Buckeyes plan to use every game, and he ultimately ends up seeing a similar number of snaps to Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard. That, according to Meyer, makes him a starter, even if he doesn't technically run out on the field on the opening snap.

We just have more starters.
Every year, this shirt gets a little more real.

“There really is no two starters," Meyer said in a press conference last season. "It’s three starters at the defensive end position: Tyquan (Lewis), (Sam) Hubbard and Jalyn (Holmes)."

Having more starters than starting spots is becoming more and more common at Ohio State. Kerry Coombs likes to say he had three starting cornerbacks last season – Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward – even though only Conley and Lattimore ever started a game. The cornerbacks coach regularly gets frustrated with reporters who call Ward a first-year starter this season.

More recently, new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson discussed the need for more than just 11 starters when you play as uptempo as Ohio State wants to play in 2017.

 "When you’re playing fast, you need to play more than 11 people," Wilson told our Dan Hope. "I know in previous years, sometimes we talked about, we had 17, 18, 19 starters, because we knew guys were going to play and play a lot."

When you have a roster as loaded as Ohio State's and you play as fast as the Buckeyes want to play, you're going to use more than 11 players on each side of the ball consistently. When that happens, the 11 that take the field first is really just a small technicality.

So when the Buckeyes release their first depth chart in a few weeks, don't be shocked to see quite a few "ORs" present, and don't be surprised if those "ORs" are still there come January.

See, Meyer is doing his best to make the term "starter" obsolete – or at least change its meaning entirely – so you may as well embrace it. With the way Meyer recruits and the increasing number of game-ready players on the roster, our shirt gets more and more true every year: "We don't have backups, just more starters."

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