Florida head coach Jim McElwain and assistant coach Tim Skipper dropped by to check in on handy-Holly at his school late last week. While the staff can’t talk to him because he is a member of the 2017 class and just a junior, they certainly made their presence known.
They also left a special message with Handy-Holly’s coach that they were offering him a scholarship. Handy-Holly made sure to get back with McElwain about what he thought.
“I told Coach Mac that I was going to be a Gator,” he said. “They really liked me at camp this summer. Florida is special to me. This is a dream come true.”
The young man has been serious about Florida for a long time. His father Lev Holly coaches at Blount HS in Pritchard, Alabama and brought him over to Florida way back when others were coaching the Gators.
“I think it’s very big,” Mr. Holly said of the offer. “It’s the first school he actually went to with me. We spent 3-4 days back with Coach Meyer, Coach Strong, and Billy G. Florida is a special place for him and a dream come true.”
“I went to camp when I was younger and I just had a good feeling when they offered me,” Kendarian said. “They like my length and I am very athletic.
‘Ken’, as his friends call him, has been playing football since he was four years old and knows current Gator commit Lamical Perine and the 2016 star running back is really pushing for Ken to get o board the Gator train.
“He just tells me it is a great place and if I can try to get down to campus and see if that is where I want to go,” Ken said of Perine. “He really wants me to join him. I’m playing basketball right now, after the season I will try and get down there.
The older Holly is definitely on board with what the Gators have to offer. Lev Holly, as mentioned before, is a high school coach and understands all the different facets of recruiting.
“Coach McElwain, Coach Skip and Drew (Hughes) are all great guys,” Mr. Holly said. “I think the difference in this staff and other staffs… I think all of them care for kids, but I think Coach Mac has a different approach. I think that will mean a lot to him moving forward.”
Mr. Holly elaborated on what he knows of McElwain and what type of coach and mentor he is.
“I knew Coach Mac when he was in Alabama,” Coach Lev said. “He just has a certain aura about himself. I have always respected his work. Now that I have had a chance to see him work his program, he does it first class, does it with a lot of dignity, with a lot of respect for Coach Saban as a mentor to him. I think that is one of the big things that stood out to me watching him do it.
“He’s a perfectionist and what father wouldn’t want their kid to play for someone like that. I know he surrounds himself not with just good coaches, but even better people. That says a lot about him.”
It seems the thing that is really connecting with the Ken is the bonds he is building with the Gator staff.
“He’s a kid who thrives off of relationships,” Coach Holly said. “He has a great relationship with Coach Skip and Coach Hughes. He tweets them and DM’s them all the time and lets them know he is thinking about them.
“I’m a big relationship person. There are two ways to effect people… positive and negative. You want to be one that always effects people positively. I’m not surprised. If he wants to commit to them, as long as he’s happy with it, I’m good with it.”
“I think coaching is a ministry. I’ve been doing it for like 13-14 years. Parents give us these kids and we’re in this profession to mold them. Not just to make them champions on the field but make them champions in life.”
And daddy is a proud man of what his son has become and what his future holds for him.
“I am very involved in his life,” Coach said. “It’s special with him being a coach’s son. Knowing his love for the game, he’s been around it a long time. As a parent it’s good to see him going to different camps. All the long hours of him staying on the practice field and staying around the coaches’ offices. Being around a bunch of great players in his day and it has seemed to pay off.”
Handy-Holly is outstanding off the field as well. He’s that guy that wants to help everyone else around him be successful.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him as a father to see his success, but I always see the way he does things,” Coach Holly said. “He’s a great kid, very humble, very faithful and upbeat in his faith. He’s just a great kid.
“The most incredible thing he said is when he got his offer, he said, “me getting this offer will be big for my friends, they will get a chance to be exposed when they come to see me.” That says a lot about him and what kind of person he is.
He figured the time was coming for Florida to offer and he figures the next step to happen.
“The offer to me wasn’t surprising and to him it wasn’t surprising,” Coach said. “It was just a matter of time and a perfect time.
It’s a big offer. People say it can get better, and that may be possible, but I think he needs to go where he fits and I think Florida would be a good fit for him.
“If he wanted to commit to Florida I would accept it. The reason why, is I know Florida is a special place to him and I know he can see himself playing there. To him, it is a dream come true.”
For Kendarian, he knows what he likes about the Gators and why this offer was special. He also has a feel that something big could come soon and what he is looking for with the school he finally chooses.
“I like the coaching staff, the winning mentality they have, and it feels like home,” Ken said about the Florida program. “I think it’ll be soon. It will be about the education. I want to help the team when I show up. I have to like the coaching staff.”