Next up in our 2023 UW Recruiting Profile series is Vincent Holmes out of San Jacinto HS, CA. I was planning on running through our DL class after wrapping up our OL class (check out the rest of our Recruiting Notebook Series), but after landing a handful of top dawgs over the last month, I’m changing plans and we’ll run through some of our top rated commits to date.
Get excited Husky fans. Holmes is one of my favorite defensive commits that I’ve had a chance to breakdown, and I’d argue that even with his recent bump up the recruiting rankings he’s still underrated. The multi-dimensional athlete out of southern California reminds me a lot of fellow San Jacinto HS product Davon Banks, who UW was able to snag late in the 2021 recruiting cycle as an under-the-radar pandemic-impacted recruit. Like Banks, Holmes brings elite track speed to the UW secondary having run a 10.99 in the 100m this past spring (which roughly translates to a 4.5 40), although he’s recently been reported to be running somewhere in the 4.4 range. Speed kills, and DeBoer & Co. have made it a point to upgrade our team speed in the 2023 class.
Playing both WR and FS for San Jacinto to maximize his game breaking athleticism, and while he’s a major contributor to the Tigers offense (in 16 varsity games he averaged ~20 yds/catch for ~900 yards), his future on Montlake is at safety.
Tape & On-Field Performance
As I said before, I’m a huge fan of Holmes, and when you turn on his tape you can see why. The first two things that immediately jump off the screen are his “easy” speed and his ball skills. Now I’ve already hyped his speed, but his track times don’t really do his speed justice. What’s impressive is how fluid and natural his speed looks. He looks like he’s gliding across the field, and you don’t really notice how fast he’s moving until you see him fly past DBs or close on a ball carrier.
Sometimes you worry about HS players that only have highlights when they are exactly in the right spot at the right time, but Holmes’ tape shows that he has the speed to make plays off script and outside of his assignment. Whether it’s making far-side tackles in pursuit of a running back, breaking off his route during a scramble drill, or hauling ass across the field to cover up another player’s busted coverage and ending up with an interception, Holmes’ speed is a difference maker.
As for his ball skills, Holmes is no slouch as a receiver, and those skills translate to the other side of the ball when he’s playing defense. Its common for DBs who only played on one side of the ball to arrive at the next level with unrefined ball skills, but as a bona fide deep threat receiver as well as a DB, Holmes has those skills/traits dialed. Ball skills include more than just being able to catch a ball (I’d be concerned if any D1 athlete couldn’t catch a ball that was thrown at their chest). What separates the average athlete from one that has true ball skills are things like ball tracking, catching in contested situations (most plays on the ball for a safety will have a WR in close proximity), and off-body or contorted catches. The plays at the 0:16 and 1:11 mark of Holmes’ tape perfectly capture his skills on display. On the first play, he’s playing deep Cover 2 and immediately identifies the passing strength to the far side of the field and that the WRs are going deep. He drifts towards the passing strength, tracks the ball in-flight, high points the pass, and secures the interception through contact with the WR. On the second play, he’s playing safety towards the boundary on a goal line passing play. He recognizes the QB breaking the pocket towards the field, recognizes a crossing route that is completely uncovered along the backline of the end zone, and he snags a toe-drag interception by undercutting the WR who had a 15 yard head start on him to the back corner of the end zone. Simply put, Holmes’ speed, instincts, and ball skills turned an easy TD into a turnover.
It’s not just about the interceptions and highlight plays for Holmes though, and he leverages his ranginess as a tackler as well. Holmes is not afraid to mix it up in the run game and making tackles underneath. He’s tireless in pursuit, and a hard hitting tackler to boot. Based on his style of play, I’d bet that Holmes knows that his athleticism gives him a margin of error that allows him to play aggressive, so he regularly sits on his spot rather than immediately dropping for depth. This lets him fly downhill on clean up tackles. Between his aggressive play on these routes, his stopping power, and his sound tackling in space that regularly results in screen plays for no gain and hitches or slants with no yards after catch.
Fit, Position & Projection
As I mentioned earlier, Holmes is projected to be a safety in college, and he should immediately raise the ceiling of the room from the moment he steps on campus. In Morrell’s Quarters-heavy scheme, run plays will be spilled to the perimeter where the safeties act as quasi-overhang defenders playing clean up duty, but they’ll also have to be able to run stride for stride with slot receivers on anything going vertical or breaking inside past 10 yards. That’s a very diverse set of responsibilities that require a unique blend of range and physicality at both safety spots, and even more so if you consider that there will be times when one of the safeties has to rotate into the Husky spot over the lost depending on the offensive formation. Fortunately for Holmes, he brings CB athleticism and ball skills, as well as strong safety physicality to the table.
In addition to his projected spot at safety, I could see Holmes make a play for early time on special teams as a returner and gunner. The old staff liked playing starters on special teams, but with a new staff, the departure of many special teams contributors, and few returning players with special teams experience, there should be an opportunity for Holmes fight his way onto the field.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a huge fan of two-way players, and Vincent Holmes is a perfect example of why. He brings WR skills and elite athleticism to the safety position while blending in his own brand of physicality and aggressive play. While there will be a few technical aspects of his game that he’ll work with the coaches on, he has the raw talent and instincts that you simply can’t coach. I’m looking forward to seeing him make an early impact on Montlake.
After a great talk with my family and my head coach @Coach_Galliano| and a great visit at the University of Washington I would like to announce my commitment to the dawgs @KalenDeBoer @CoachMorrell3 @CoachJuice6 @CoachShephard @WilliamInge1 @PlayerProMorgan @cjmcgorisk pic.twitter.com/AyvHtH3pBe— 4⭐️ATH vincent holmes (@vincentholmes18) June 25, 2022