Jul 14, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
While TJ Jones is gone, Notre Dame might have signed a receiver that looks and plays an awful lot like him in incoming freshman Corey Holmes. With the Irish getting back into St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the top prep programs in the country in Fort Lauderdale, Notre Dame signed a smooth wideout with skills developed to play immediately.
How easily that happens depends on Holmes. Injuries ruined his senior season in high school. But the Under Armour All-American has a lot of people thinking he’s an under-the-radar type player with star qualities, hard to be when you consider the national profile of his high school, not to mention the offers that came Holmes’ way during his recruitment.
Let’s take a closer look at the freshman wide receiver from Fort Lauderdale.
6’2″ 176 lbs.
Even though injuries limited Holmes to under 400 yards his senior season, he had elite offers from national programs like Michigan, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma and UCLA. But Holmes picked Notre Dame above all of them, a surprise considering his initial visit to campus only happened because he was making a road trip to check out Michigan.
But Tony Alford immediately connected with Holmes and he committed in mid-July, before finishing a fairly uneventful recruitment that included an official visit in October. On Signing Day, head coach Brian Kelly talked about the comparisons to Jones, who just completed an MVP season for the Irish.
“He reminded me a lot, and I don’t like to make the comparisons, but he has a lot of the same ceilings in terms of where TJ Jones developed, but he’s 6’2″. This kid is longer,” Kelly said. “He’s a bigger kid than TJ. But he’s got a lot of those mannerisms and characteristics. This is a great fit for us from that high school. He’s played great competition, and he’s a great fit for our program.”
Holmes feels like the perfect upside project for the Irish staff. After listening to the signee video that UND.com put together for him, Holmes’ high school coach believes he could be one of the great players to play at St. Thomas Aquinas, a program that continues to churn out elite talent.
Holmes needs to grow into his height, something Paul Longo will help him do. But his highlights show a player who already knows how to play the game — a silky runner who doesn’t look like he’s moving all that quickly, even if he’s behind the defender.
Playing at a top program that runs a college-ready system should help him. Add to it the fact that an injury took away a significant amount of football, and he’s been able to fly below the radar nationally, potentially putting a chip on his shoulder this summer, his first work with the Irish staff.
If he’s truly a burner in the 4.4-4.5 mold, he’s got the chance to take the top off a defense, something the Irish can always use more of, especially if the Irish offense stays vertically inclined. But he’s already more than just a one-patterned deep threat, and the fact that he marries Jones’ smooth ability to run routes with better length good speed is a great foundation.
I think the comparison to TJ Jones is a great one, with one very important caveat: If Jones were a freshman coming into Notre Dame in 2014, he probably wouldn’t play much either.
If possible, a redshirt could be a great thing for Holmes. It’d allow him to put on an additional coat of armor in a college strength and conditioning program. It would also let him follow a mold similar to DaVaris Daniels, potentially even replacing him (as Daniels did Michael Floyd) after he heads to the NFL, leaving a year of eligibility on the table.
At this point, it’s hard to know what the Irish have in Holmes. A big time player at a big time Florida program? One with length, great speed and good route-running ability? It sure sounds like Holmes has star potential.
But then again, it wasn’t too long ago that Notre Dame signed Justin Ferguson out of Florida. Armed with an NFL body and an Alabama offer, Ferguson is now learning how to play safety at Western Michigan, trying to find his way onto the field.
My gut says that Holmes will be a very productive football player for the Irish, but it won’t necessarily happen in 2014. With a depth chart already loaded, sitting out might be the best thing for him.
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