Two mostly anonymous seasons gave way to a breakthrough spring for Corey Holmes. Triggering that rise? A blazing 40-yard dash that forced eyes to open on an Irish coaching staff looking to replace speedster Will Fuller and starters Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle.
Now the key is to carry that momentum into the fall. With positional versatility helpful, Holmes now needs to find a niche in the system—a home for him to utilize a skill-set that never seemed to be in question.
With young receivers surrounding him and no true experience to be found at the position, Homes is in perfect position to break loose in 2016.
6'.5", 190 lbs.
Junior, No. 15, WR
Injuries slowed Holmes during his career at St. Thomas Aquinas, the powerhouse Florida program. But it didn’t stop colleges from chasing him.
The four-star prospect had offers from Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Oklahoma and many more. He was also an Under Armour All-American.
Freshman Season (2014): Saw action against Rice and Michigan before spending the majority of the season on the scout team.
Sophomore Season (2015): Did not play, preserving a year of eligibility.
WHAT WE SAID LAST YEARFeel pretty good about this, considering nobody saw a redshirt coming. The idea of Holmes in the slot seems to be something being explored right now—as well as the deep-ball specialist.
Too many receivers, not enough footballs. I’m putting Holmes into the group that might be able to serve as the “designated deep threat,” and pretty much think 10 catches on the season would make a productive year.
That number could go up if he’s capable of serving as a Z receiver. The slot seems to be the only place—unless injuries strike—where Holmes could carve out a niche, but that would mean that CJ Prosise made a full transition to running back and Carlisle lets injuries get in the way of his final season in South Bend.
While no player wants to hear it, last season’s redshirt was the best thing to happen to Holmes, especially considering the logjam. Because if both Will Fuller and Corey Robinson stick around, it might be 2016 until Holmes has a chance to step forward.
At his best, Holmes could turn into a TJ Jones type—an undersized, smooth receiver who can also get behind a secondary. But that’ll necessitate taking a big step forward in 2016, the year where he’ll have his best chance to stand out before a group of young and talented receivers find their footing.
Holmes’ lack of size and physicality has to be a limiting factor. You can work around that when you have speed like Will Fuller. But even if Holmes ran a 4.39 this spring, Fuller ran faster than that before you considered the fact that played even faster in cleats.
To be clear, a Jones-like ceiling would be a great career for a receiver who enters his third season in the program without a catch. The sophomore redshirt was crucial to preserving his development timeline. Now a big third season is equally important.
Can Holmes be the breakout star in this offense? He has as good of a chance as anybody. But I’m hesitant to buy in completely to Holmes taking his big spring and bringing that onto the field. I think Holmes is destined to be a specialty guy, the type of over-the-top deep threat that he’s uniquely qualified to be.
Opportunity is there, especially in the slot if CJ Sanders’ recovery takes more time than the staff wants. But I don’t see Holmes skills playing best inside, but rather on the wide side of the field. That means he’ll need to beat out a talented young player like Equanimeous St. Brown for reps, not necessarily an easy thing.
Maybe a Jones comparison here makes sense. In his second season of eligibility, Jones had 38 catches for 366 yards and three touchdowns. I don’t think Holmes will get 40 targets, let alone catches. But if he averages 15 yards a catch (a big number that would mean he’d be getting mostly downfield targets), he could be an impact player if he made 20 catches. I think that’d qualify as an excellent season.
2016’s Irish A-to-Z