That’s something that may have been tough for most guys to do, try to recruit a player that could eventually bump you to another position, but for Holsey it was something he had to do because it was all about winning games and trying to get a title.
“That conversation with Blake, I pretty much told him he needs to come to Auburn,” Holsey said. “It really wasn’t really—once they told me they were interested in him, I really just contacted him and was like, ‘Where you trying to—where you thinking about going and what not?’ He told me where he was going, and I was like, ‘If you come down here, you’ll have a chance to come in and help us, and have an opportunity to win a national championship,’ compared to where he was thinking of going.
:”Even though those were great schools, but I felt like where he was at, he ran the exact same thing we ran for the entire spring, so I was like, ‘If you come here, there’s not really a dropoff at all.’ I’m really glad he came here for real.”
Not really knowing much about Auburn before giving the Tigers a look, the 30-game starter and three-year letterman for the Wolverines found out about Will Muschamp and his future position coach Travaris Robinson and liked everything he heard, but it was Holsey that played a big part in his decision he said.
“Hearing it from a player is much different than hearing it from a coach,” Countess said. “Coach T-Rob, Coach Muschamp both explained it to me. It kinda puts it in perspective when you hear it from a player. He said: ‘We have a chance to be really good in the secondary, but we have no depth right now. You coming in is going to allow us to do some different things on defense that we really can’t do right now.’”
Once he got the message from Holsey it opened up a big door for the Tigers as Countess found out very quickly just how much he was needed in Auburn’s defense. A group that has excelled under Muschamp and Robinson while at Florida and years before when the coordinator was at Auburn, Texas and LSU, the secondary needed him and Countess quickly realized he needed Auburn as well.
“It just seemed like the perfect fit,” Countess said. “They had a big need at the position and I felt like I could come in. When I came on my visit I really bonded with the guys here and felt like we could do something special. That's what I wanted to be a part of, was something special.
“They're a new staff here on defense so coming in and going through the spring they said there wasn't a guy that really stood out,” he added of Auburn. “Jon Jones had a good year last year but he didn't go through spring practice. Then they had the injury with T.J. Davis. It kind of shook them up a little bit. They were still looking and then they had a few guys that decided to go somewhere else. They were real upfront and honest with me that the opportunity is there to come in and contribute but you're going to have to work for it. Once I got here I really saw that and I'm here to work.”
While the move may have been a tough one for most guys, for Countess it was made simpler after going through spring practice at Michigan under coordinator D.J. Durkin. Florida’s defensive coordinator the last two seasons under Muschamp, his schemes and terminology were very similar to what Countess found when he got to Auburn. He said that was a comforting feeling and allowed him to hit the ground running on the Plains.
“That's the beauty of it,” Countess said of his move. “The defense that I ran this spring at Michigan is the same defense that we're running here. Coach Durkin actually worked with Coach Muschamp and Coach T-Rob last year at Florida and he's the d-coordinator now at Michigan. The terminology is a lot of the same stuff. The learning curve is very small for me because I've really had the same amount of practices in this defense than the guys that were here have.”
Comfortable in the defense and almost assured of playing time right away Countess is focused on being as ready as possible when the Tigers take the field against Louisville on Sept. 5, but he can admit he’s got thoughts of a game much later in the season as well. Already part of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for three years he said that thinking about playing in the Iron Bowl as well is something that came into play when he chose Auburn.
“That was one of Coach Muschamp’s selling points,” Countess said. “He said the first game is in the Georgia Dome, the third game is in Death Valley and then you’ll be able to play in one of the greatest rivalries in college football. Being in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for four years — it’s going to be interesting to see the difference.”