Auburn, Ala.--Two knee injuries and ACL surgeries left fifth-year senior defensive back Josh Holsey wondering what his role would be with the Auburn Tigers heading into this season. With defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Defensive Backs Coach Wesley McGriff both unsure of what to expect from the former four-star prospect, Holsey’s potential impact was a huge unknown.
Following a second-straight game sealing interception, that question has been answered in a big way, according to Steele.
“He's just a football player,” Steele said. “I know y'all hear that and say, 'What does that mean? If that's not coach-speak, there never was coach-speak.' He's a football player. Well, they're all football players. What we mean by that is usually when you get to that level is that you understand the game like a coach.
“He sees the game like a coach. He knows by splits, he knows by alignments, he knows by sets this is the combinations we're getting so as soon as No. 2 does something, he knows what No. 1 is doing or within close proximity so he gets a jump on things.
“That allows him to, and I hesitate in saying this exact word, it makes him a smart cheater in that he can cover his guy and cheat to someone else.”
Making those kinds of plays is what drives Holsey after missing so much time during his four seasons at Auburn. Injured on the final play in a Thursday practice before going to Texas A&M, he missed the run that the Tigers went on to win the SEC Championship and play in the BCS Championship Game.
Josh Holsey has plenty of reasons to smile during his comeback 2016 season.
Now with a chance to help the Tigers make another run at a league title, Holsey said he’s not taking anything for granted.
“I appreciate living moments like those,” he said. “When you have two knee injuries, you can’t really do anything. You never know what’s next, so I take every game and practice to heart. I went down on a non-contact injury.
“When I go to practice now, I go hard every play. When I come out to the game, I play my hardest because you never know when that last play will be. If I do get injured again, I want to make sure I go out playing as hard as I possibly could.”
With teammate Carlton Davis calling him a “playmaker,” it’s Holsey’s intelligence on the field that his teammates and coaches rave about. The smarts are just one part of the equation for the Georgia native with maturity another strong quality.
That is something the Tigers will count on this week as they get read to travel to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs in a huge game for Gus Malzahn’s team. With a trip to Atlanta still on the table the focus could be looking at other things, but Holsey said this time of year it takes complete concentration to get the job done.
“This whole next week is going to be big for us, mentally and physically,” Holsey said. “We have to get a lot of guys healthy. We have a lot of guys that are beat up. We have a lot of guys with nicks and bruises so I’m sure this week will be a lot more mental than physical.
“Coach Malzahn does a great job of helping us get well. He watches our reps. He watches what we do. The main thing they tell us is if we’re watching our reps, we have to be responsible. That’s just as important as actual practice. We have to be able to physically see what’s going on in the film room. We have to spend a lot more time preparing.”