Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.) offensive lineman Desmond Holmes began the recruiting process by procuring offers from the likes of Duquesne, ODU, Towson, Coastal Carolina and finally UCF. But on May 9, the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder saw his stock increase exponentially when a pair of power-five suitors came through in Syracuse and Maryland.
“It was crazy how it went down. I went from a few good offers to getting my first really big offers from the ACC and the Big Ten. It’s crazy to think about right now,” Holmes said. “What happened was these coaches had been stopping by my school recently to check my transcripts and get my information, and then out of nowhere I’m getting the offers. Coaches from Syracuse and Maryland started talking to me a couple weeks ago, and then May 9 I called assistants from both and I found out theyhad offered me. It was like one after the other. I was honored and just blessed.”
With Maryland, Holmes heard from UMD-area recruiter Anthony Tucker. He said Tucker first initiated contact via Twitter earlier during the evaluation period, before stopping by O’Hara in late April. Then, on May 9, Holmes’ high school coach instructed the budding tackle to give Tucker a call.
“So I called Coach Tucker and he was telling me the coaches there would love to have me, and they wanted to offer me as a tackle,” Holmes said. “I was blown away; I had no idea he was going to offer me. But he was just talking about the environment at Maryland, the campus, the school, the academics and the academic support.
“One thing that stood out was how Maryland needs offensive tackles. I know they don’t have many there right now, so it would be a great opportunity for me. And another thing that really stood out to me was how they really help the student-athletes there. Like, Coach Tucker was saying how they give you all you need to succeed on and off the field.”
Beyond his conversation with Tucker, Holmes said he was familiar with UMD from having watched Terps’ games on TV. He also said the fact College Park, Md., isn’t too far from his Springfield home makes Maryland an attractive option.
“It’s a great program at Maryland, and they play in a great conference in the Big Ten,” said Holmes, who noted he enjoyed speaking to Tucker and is looking forward to meeting him and offensive line coach Dave Borbely in person. “I don’t know too much beyond that, but Coach Tucker wants me to familiarize myself, and I plan to do that. I definitely want to get down there for a visit this summer. I like how it’s right down the road, just a couple hours from where I live.”
As for Syracuse, Holmes said he spoke to Orange-area recruiter Mike Hart. The Springfield native mentioned much of their conversation mirrored what the UMD assistant had intimated.
“Coach Hart seemed like a really cool guy. I liked him a lot,” Holmes said. “We were talking about academics, the program up there and also the family environment. He said Syracuse was my first big-impact offer and that should tell me something, and that he’s looking forward to staying in touch with me. He said he’s eager to get back to my school to watch me again, because he really wants me up there.”
Holmes admitted he didn’t know too much about SU, nor did he watch the Orange during his younger years. That said, he did some initial research and is eager to check out head coach Dino Babers’ program.
“I know Syracuse is in a great conference in the ACC, and I know it’s on the rise now with Coach Babers there,” Holmes said. “So I want to keep getting to know them, keep getting to know Coach Hart and just find out how they can really help me as a student-athlete.
"Another thing is Coach Hart was telling me how it was an easy ride for him to my school down from New York, so that's big that [Syracuse] isn't hard to get to."
Unlike Maryland, Holmes said the Syracuse staff likes him at nose guard. The lineman mentioned the Orange could give him a look on defense, “but they’re leaning towards offensive guard.”
Holmes noted that he has two offers for defensive tackle from Duquesne and UCF, but the rest are on the offensive side of the ball.
Besides the verbals he has in tow, Holmes is receiving interest from Temple, Pitt, UConn and UMass.
“I’ve been going to Temple since like the eighth grade and I’m very familiar with them. I’m going back for a camp, and hopefully I get the offer then. I know they’re really interested in me,” Holmes said. “Also, Pitt has been talking to me a lot, and I want to camp there to see if I can get that offer.”
Holmes has only been to Temple so far this year. Last season, he was able to attend either games or junior days at Pitt, Rutgers, UVA, WVU and ODU. This summer, he’d like to check out UMD, SU, Pitt and Temple once again.
“I don’t really have any leaders or offers I’m looking for right now, though,” Holmes said. “I’m just getting started and finding out about these schools. I just want to enjoy the process and go through it. I want to make sure I know the best for me, and I want to find the place where I can best excel as a student and an athlete and get a great degree.”