The buzz surrounding Scottsdale (Ariz.) City College strongside defensive end Louis Holmes has been almost deafening. The 6-foot-7, 270-pounder has offers from teams all over the nation, and if you ask any big-time college coach they'll tell you that Holmes is an instant impact type prospect that has NFL written all over him.
All of those things made Holmes an easy selection fro Rivals.com's No. 1 junior college player in the nation. Holmes highlights a strong defensive line class in the junior college rankings that were released today by Rivals.com.
Holmes said he doesn't know what to think about all the talk about him being the nation's top player. He knows he's talented, but he's also flattered by all the high praise.
"A lot of staffs have been telling me they are really high on me, and it's good because I do work really hard and have done a lot to be where I am today," he said. "But it's also amazing to sit back and think about all these people wanting you. It makes all the hard work worthwhile, but it's also something that kind of makes you saw 'wow.' "
Wow is what Holmes does on the field.
After signing with Ohio State out of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard, he was first-team All-America selection as a freshman. He racked up 102 tackles and 11 sacks as a freshman and in his first three games of 2005 he had 10 tackles.
"This kid was really good in high school, but he's exploded into the most complete defensive lineman in the junior college ranks," one SEC coach said. "Louis Holmes is without a doubt the top juco player available - and it's not even close."
Holmes has already visited USC and is scheduled to visit LSU on November 25. Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and UCLA are other teams on his list.
Holmes hopes to make a big impact wherever he ends up at. He's helped turnaround a Scottsdale program that was once thought as one of the lower level programs out West.
"The year before I got to Scottsdale they had only won like three games but then in my first year we went like 9-1," Holmes said. "There can be big turnarounds, and I think that I would make a big impact wherever I go. I just do my thing out there and make sure to play hard all the time."
Right behind Holmes is another play-making defensive end - Walter Fisher of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. The Tennessee Volunteers placed him at Coffeyville hoping he would transform himself into a ready-made SEC player.
The plan worked.
Fisher was the most dominant defensive linemen in a loaded Jayhawk Conference this season. The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder was a force on the pass rush, and he flew around all over the field making big plays in running situations.
"I'm the defensive line coach so this cat makes me look good," Coffeyville assistant Sean Cherico said. "It's going to be freakish to see what he does when he gets to Tennessee. He's one of the few players we have that can go to an SEC-level program and play without skipping a beat."
Behind Fisher at No. 3 is Brent Schaeffer, a former starter as a true freshman at Tennessee. At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Schaeffer has had a monster season at College of the Sequoias. The talented signal caller has thrown for more than 1,200 yards, rushed for over 600 yards, and thrown for 14 touchdowns and added another five on the ground. His team started out at 4-1 on the season and is battling for first place in their division.
Nebraska snagged an early pledge from the No. 4 player - Andre Jones, a cornerback from Fresno City College. Jones, who is a 6-foot, 192-pound lockdown corner, had offers Arkansas, Oregon, Oregon State, USC, Utah, Washington and Washington State.
Last year, Fresno City College ended up with eight wins in 11 games. Jones estimated that he had five tackles a game or approximately 55 tackles for the season. On top of the tackles, he picked off 10 interceptions and had two quarterback sacks.
The top player in the Mississippi junior college ranks is Booneville (Miss.) Northeast Mississippi C.C. defensive tackle Greg Smith. The 6-foot-3, 330-pounder is an Auburn commitment and is strong as an ox. He has a 425-pound bench press and a 585-pound squat and should be talented enough to dominate up front in the SEC.
Nebraska has jumped out of the gate early with commitments from three players in the top 50. Along with the pledge from Jones, the Huskers have landed four-star defensive end Rulon Davis and three-star linebacker Steve Allen. There are still 35 players out of the top 50 that have yet to make their decision.