In the last two weeks, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd athlete Jevon Holland has scored offers from Boise State -- a team he enjoyed watching as a child -- Nevada, where one of his friends from his homeland of Canada -- Robert Lee -- played, before transferring back up north, and San Jose State. On Tuesday, after driving over to Berkley with his father -- former San Francisco 49ers defender Robert Holland -- he added another, from his hometown school of California.
"They invited me out there, and I was talking to coach [Gerald] Alexander, and we met all the coaches, walked around the facility, met some players, and I got offered directly from coach [Justin] Wilcox, in his office," Holland said. "We were just talking about the whole game plan with Cal, and how it's different from the last program that they had, and how they want guys there that want to be there not just for the facility or for the look, but want to be there for the team, and make the team better. That's what I got from coach Wilcox. Great guy, by the way, him and the whole coaching staff."
The hour-and-a-half visit after a half-day at O'Dowd was "just a little taste," of Cal for Holland, who said he "definitely" plans on visiting some more.
"This one was exciting," Holland said. "It's in my backyard. All my friends, they always go to games. It's nice to have someone at home offer you. I enjoyed it."
Holland represents what Wilcox said in his introductory press conference -- a desire to get back to recruiting the Bay Area -- and he also represents a change in philosophy. Cal is only the second school to offer Holland as a defender. The previous staff would likely have recruited him as an athlete, or as a wide receiver, where we have him as a four-star prospect. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder is well-built and rangy, with long arms and a nose for the ball, picking off four passes during Sunday's Kenion Training 7on7 Kickoff at Oakland (Calif.) Skyline on a day where interceptions were hard to come by. The shifty Holland has a quick burst, elusiveness and plus lateral quickness in the return game, and can get up and go, particularly in the return game.
"They definitely said that I'd be a good fit, and that they're playing three deep," Holland said. "They didn't say specifically, but I got the feeling that they wanted me more as a safety [than a corner], but if they happen to move me to corner, no problem. I play wherever you need me."
Holland said he sees himself as a 50-50 split between offense and defense, and has no preference on where he plays in college.
"I know that Arizona is definitely [recruiting me] on the defensive side, I think UCLA is kind of in between, Nevada I think is on the defensive side, Boise State is kind of in between," Holland said.
He showed off that offensive dynamism with a 37-yard punt return touchdown and a 36-yard scoring grab in a 45-0 rout of Castro Valley late last season.
"They said that, when you recruit the Bay Area, there's more pride for somebody in the Bay Area to put that team on the map, to put Cal on the map, when they're out of the Bay Area," Holland said. "You're homegrown, and a lot of people want to see their friends and family members who've grown up there become something more than just high school. For them to go to Cal and to put them on the map, that's definitely important."
A native of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Holland traces his roots back to Northern California. His father, J. Robert Holland, was a star for Monterrey (Calif.) Seaside, and went on to be a part of Sacramento State's first scholarship recruiting class, before spending parts of three years with the 49ers. He then had a lengthy career in the Canadian Football League, before returning to the United States, and settling in Oakland in 2008. He's coached his sons' youth teams, and then helped coach the Dragons last season.
In his first Varsity season, Holland caught 12 balls for 381 yards and eight touchdowns, made 35 tackles (including 2.0 tackles for loss) and picked off three passes, returning them for 100 yards. He also deflected five passes.
"He's a great coach. He taught me everything I know, sculpted me into what I am today," said Jevon Holland. "He loved [the Cal visit]. He always enjoys going and chopping it up with the coaches, testing them a little bit on the whiteboard. He's a coach himself. He loves that part."
Holland is friends with current Bears defensive back Ricky Walker, who played his high school ball at San Leandro (Calif.), and has talked with him about the Cal experience.
"Ricky said he liked it, and I haven't talked to him a lot, but the times we did chat, he said that he liked it and he enjoyed it," Holland said. "It was home, and he's close with all of his friends he went to high school with, and he knows guys on the basketball team, like Ivan [Rabb]. You're at home, but you're still going to college."
Holland's whole family is based in California, with most -- including his grandmother and cousins, uncles and aunts -- residing in Northern California.
A big factor in getting Cal and Holland together was Alexander's relationship with Maurice Jones-Drew, who helps coach Holland's Kenion Training 7on7 team, and helps out his alma mater, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle.
"We talked a little bit about his NFL experience. He said that he played with Maurice Jones-Drew, and he was a graduate assistant in Montana, and Arkansas, and he went to Boise State and played safety; we talked a little bit about that," Holland said. "I kind of took into consideration that [Alexander and Jones-Drew] were close. They're still in the Bay Area together, so they're friends."
Holland turned in a 3.22 GPA last year, and has a 3.5 this year. His cumulative GPA is 2.92, and trending upward.
As for his other recent offers, Holland said that Nevada is "a good school, and I like the snow, being from Canada."
He's also been talking to USC.
"I've been talking to USC a lot, and other schools here and there, like Utah and other Pac-12 schools and some Big 10 schools," Holland said on Sunday. "USC and Utah, I've talked to them the most. We have a tournament in L.A. next week, so I'll be going down there, and I'll meet with 'SC on the 28th. That'll be fun."