Holland Not Your Typical Gridiron Grinder

Jonathan Holland is not your typical high school teenager. The Bullis (Potomac, Md.) junior, who happens to play defensive end for the football team, not only boasts a 4.0 GPA and excels at pretty much every class he takes, but he also is an entrepreneur.

Jonathan Holland is not your typical high school teenager. The Bullis (Potomac, Md.) junior, who happens to play defensive end for the football team, not only boasts a 4.0 GPA and excels at pretty much every class he takes, but he also is an entrepreneur.

See, three years ago Holland and his older brother decided to start their own shaved ice business in order to help raise money for their baby sister's tuition. The Holland family had already put their two oldest children through private school, but didn't have the funds to send a third.

"We wanted her to be able to afford to go to private school too, so we started the shaved ice stand," Holland said. "And in five years we made more than $100,000, which was more than enough to help our sister.

"We thought it would be a manageable business for two young teenagers, and it just grew and grew from there. We contacted the Department of Agriculture, and every Friday we went to the farmer's market and set up our stand. Then on Saturdays and Sundays we'd go to large festivals like Art Scape in Baltimore, and the money just started rolling in. It's really been rewarding."

Perhaps even more rewarding than Holland's football career, which is saying something considering the season he just had. A two-year varsity starter, Holland anchored the defensive line for a 9-1 Bullis squad that won the ICAC title and suffered its only blemish in Week 1 against Washington, D.C., power St. John's.

"Two years ago I started at offensive tackle because we had a defensive end, Peter Ankrah, who is now at UMass," Holland said. "But this year my coaches told me I had to step in and take his place … and get the defense where it needed to be so all the young players would know what a Bullis defense was all about.

"I worked hard, along with the rest of the team, and as the strongside end I had to take on double teams, stop the majority of the plays to my side, learn how to use my hands to shed block, and just get quicker off the ball. My defensive skills really developed, and that's important because your junior year is a key developmental year. I learned a lot under guys like Peter, and I'm still learning even more now."

Holland did enough to impress several college coaches, first securing an offer from Illinois, followed by Pittsburgh and then West Virginia. Schools such as Maryland, Rutgers, Northwestern, Duke and Penn State have shown plenty of interest and could be next in line to pull the trigger.

"A lot of schools have been coming by Bullis now," Holland said. "During the season Penn State and Northwestern came by to my practices. And in the last few days Coach [Tom] Brattan from Maryland came by, and Delaware, Illinois and Rutgers too. I talked to Illinois for awhile, and we talked about their football program, what they're about and the general background of the program."

The Bullis defensive end said he believes Rutgers, Duke or Northwestern are the closest to offering next. Penn State coach Larry Johnson, meanwhile, evidently told him the Nittany Lions were waiting until they recouped some of their lost scholarships, and once those come available Holland would be granted one.

As for Maryland, Holland hasn't had too much personal contact with Brattan, but he knows the Terps are interested.

"A lot of the coaches that talk to me do it through Facebook, but Maryland hasn't really done that yet. But I know they're talking to my coaches and have communicated interest to Coach [Pat] Cilento here at Bullis," Holland said. "I feel like that's not anything against me, it's just that [Maryland] is choosing to do it through my coaches. So, yes, I think they're interested, but I'm not sure if or when the offer will come."

Holland learned a bit more about the Terps' position when he spoke to Brattan during this current open period. He said Brattan let him know about the direction Maryland is heading and what kind of players Randy Edsall and Co. are looking for.

"[Brattan] said they're trying to recruit more in-state talent and keep the good players from Maryland in Maryland," Holland said. "[Brattan] said he liked my style of play, and more-so what I do off the field and my character."

If UMD were to pursue, Holland would certainly listen. His older brother is currently a freshman in College Park, Md., and Jonathan has visited him a few times in the last year.

"I've gone up to hang out with him. He doesn't play sports or anything and I've never seen the football team, but I think it's a really nice place," Holland said. "My brother is in the scholars' dorm, and that's really nice. I like the dining hall, how everything you need is in one area and how everything is centralized. I like the look and feel on the campus from the eateries to the places you can hang out.

"It's a comfortable place to be, and I plan to head back there for a junior day. The coaches did invite me to one of those."

Maryland is just one school on Holland's radar, however. He said Pittsburgh is his No. 1 choice of the programs that have offered. Holland attended two Panthers games this fall and said he loved the atmosphere, coaches and "feel" of the school.

The Bullis end also had a chance to take in Ohio State, West Virginia and Penn State.

"The facilities at Ohio State are immaculate. It's hard to beat OSU in terms of facilities, history and tradition," Holland said. "West Virginia, I was just there and I liked all their coaches. They tell you how it is and are real straightforward with you. A lot of coaches will be all hype, but the coaches there tell you how it is, where they stand with you and what you need to do better."

The school that stood out the most, though, was Penn State. Right now, if the Nittany Lions were to offer, he might just commit to them. He said both he and his family "fell in love" with State College, Pa.

"Penn State stole my parents' hearts, and they're No. 1 for them – and for me too," Holland said. "I love coach Johnson, my parents love him, and he's just someone I'd love to play under. He's had so many great linemen go to the NFL, and you can't really get that [kind of coaching] at many other universities. And I loved the facilities, the players were really nice, the academics are great, and it's just a great place to be.

"And then all the blows that school took, and to come back the way they have … I think that showed a lot of heart and resilience. I'd be honored to wear their jersey. They're building something great there and I'd love to be part of that."

Holland will likely return to PSU this offseason, in addition to taking trips to Maryland, Rutgers and Old Dominion. In the meantime, Holland will be in the weight room building up his upper-body strength, and once the spring comes he'll run track.

Plus there's that whole shaved ice business he has to take care of once the warm weather hits.

"I'm looking to have a really productive offseason, both in terms of physical development and learning more about the college recruiting process," Holland said. "It's an exciting time for me."

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