In the past decade, Michigan State has acquired a reputation for developing stellar running backs who move on to the NFL. T.J. Duckett, Jehuu Caulcrick, Javon Ringer and Edwin Baker have all moved on to the pros from Michigan State, and Le’Veon Bell will most likely be picked early in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Incoming MSU freshman Gerald Holmes looks to continue the program’s legacy of great running backs. A talented young player with great vision, Holmes will attempt to earn the starting running back position, or at least break his way into the starting rotation. Holmes recently sat down with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio, discussing the young man’s work in the weight room, Spartan Nation’s outpouring of love for Holmes and his excitement to become a Spartan.
With the early departure of Le’Veon Bell to the NFL, Holmes has the opportunity to immediately compete for the starting running back position, which is currently wide open. Though Holmes has a great deal of respect for Bell, the Flint, Michigan native is eager for the chance to prove himself early on. “It’s really exciting, just to have that opportunity from the get-go. It’s really about how hard I work and how bad I want it,” he said.
Since Holmes has a shot at being the starter, his approach to the offseason “will change mentally: I’m going to be even more focused and prepared than before,” Holmes promised. Physically, all the talented back has to do is keep up his hard work in the weight room. “I just have to stay on top of it. Actually, I’m playing basketball this year, this is my last year in high school playing basketball with my friends and teammates, so I have to stay consistent.” Holmes’ father is a personal fitness trainer and has helped him every step along the way, ensuring that the young running back is in the best shape possible. “I’ve been getting my [reps] before practice, after practice and over break…I just want to stay ready and come in ready for State because I don’t want to be the average freshman coming in who needs to be built. I want to be built and then I want them to look at me and say, ‘All we need to do is maintain it.’”
This recruit has a lot of upside. A master of ball security, Holmes only fumbled twice during his senior season, and both incidents occurred in a game in which he was playing sick. When asked to give his best attribute, Holmes said: “my vision.” In the Big Ten or anywhere else, a highly desirable characteristic for running backs is vision. Holmes is well-known for this ability to look downfield and find holes. His teammates and coaches, as well as other schools, have taken notice. Programs such as Michigan, Notre Dame and Oregon all showed interest in the youngster. When Holmes did commit to Michigan State, he had approximately “ten schools coming almost every week.” The young back was so popular among college coaches that his high school coach had to act as a buffer for Holmes. “He didn’t even let them talk to me, and they were still trying to come. I didn’t really know who was coming to the school, and he just kept shying back,” Holmes explained. “They came through him so I wouldn’t have direct contact with any of the coaches.”
The Spartan Nation has also embraced Holmes. Many fans are already clamoring for him to be part of the picture at running back. For Holmes, all of the attention is an eye-opener. “It’s kind of a shock. I was talking to my dad earlier, and for him it’s kind of crazy that I’m at this point in my life now where I’m getting ready to transition into an open world, where not just my household, family, and people at school know me, [now] the whole world, Spartan Nation and other schools know me,” Holmes said.
The ceiling is endless for the incoming MSU freshman from Flint Carman-Ainsworth High School. Holmes has the potential to become a household name for the Spartans almost immediately. He is certainly ready to make his mark in East Lansing and become the next great Spartan running back: “My excitement is off the charts,” Holmes said.