Hoosiers Looking for Seconds

Will IU's second recruiting foray to Florida's Mandarin High School be as productive as the first? Two years ago the Hoosier staff discovered Kellen Lewis, and now they've targeted Mike Holmes. Holmes talks about his interest in IU, his relationship with Kellen Lewis, and more...

Will IU's second recruiting foray to Florida's Mandarin High School be as productive as the first?

Two years ago, the Hoosier coaching staff came across an athletic quarterback from the Jacksonville, Fla., high school who'd gone largely overlooked by college recruiters – Kellen Lewis. Well after the February signing date had come and gone, IU offered Lewis the opportunity to play quarterback at the Division I level, and he's emerged as the quarterback-of-the-future for Coach Terry Hoeppner's squad.

This year, Indiana has targeted another promising athlete from the program – 5'10", 180-pound Mike Holmes. A 1,200-yard rusher as a senior, Holmes will make his official visit to IU next weekend (Jan. 12-14).

"They've been showing a lot of interest in me," said Holmes, who has already taken official visits to Syracuse and Iowa. "I know they're program is coming up, one of my former teammates, Kellen, is up there, so the interest is high."

After starting at free safety as a sophomore, Holmes spent the last two years at tailback. He ran for 1,000 yards as a junior and capped his prep career with a 1,200-yard, 15-touchdown season in the fall. But Indiana is recruiting him as an athlete, most likely as someone who could help in the defensive backfield.

Holmes says that switch is just fine with him.

"When they were first recruiting me, the coach called and said they were only signing one running back and already had one, but he wanted to bring me up in one of the meetings to see if I could play on defense," Holmes said. "I thought that would be good, and I guess that's what happened because they're recruiting me as an athlete or defensive player."

Indiana has already secured a verbal from Plantation (Fla.) H.S. tailback Zach Walker, who will join a deep pool of running backs that includes Marcus Thigpen, Demetrius McCray, Bryan Payton and Justin Carrington. But IU is still in need of some help in the secondary, at both cornerback and safety.

"They think I could help anywhere in the secondary," Holmes said. "When coaches have seen film of me as a running back, they thought I could play corner because they liked the footwork, the balance, the hips, the explosiveness. I run hard on my highlight tape and I'm aggressive – I don't mind hitting someone."

So how much will Kellen Lewis help IU's cause? Holmes said besides being prep teammates two years ago, the duo go to the same church in Jacksonville and their mothers are close friends. Those are pluses for the Hoosiers, but ultimately Holmes says he must do what's best for him.

"We were real close friends, and he was one of the guys on the team that I looked up to," Holmes said. "But when it comes to my decision, his going there won't affect it that much, although what he has to tell me about the program will have an impact."

Holmes will have a chance to see Lewis next weekend when he's in town, although he said he's unsure whether or not Lewis will be his host for the visit. It will be his third official, and he's hoping the trip to Bloomington measures up to the first two stops.

"I went to Syracuse, and then I went to Iowa the next weekend, and both were good visits," Holmes said. "They both have good programs, a lot of tradition, great coaches and great facilities. Hopefully Indiana will match up with them."

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