The redshirt freshman running back spent last year on the scout team, taking licks from the Spartans' defense, which was among the best in the nation.
But going against that defense is what he took away as the best experience he gained last year.
"Being used to getting hit by a No. 1 defense every single day," he said. "I believe being young, last year, playing against those guys everyday during practice and getting banged up, I believe that built more toughness in me.
"Now, with more experience, I feel like I can adapt to it."
The 6-foot, 220-pound back added weight last year – he came in at 212 pounds after graduating from Flint Carman-Ainsworth.
"I feel actually like with the weight, I was able to control it and move well," he said. "Most people add weight and get slower and I felt like the bigger I got, the faster I got."
With senior Jeremy Langford well locked into the No. 1 spot at running back, Holmes is among those battling for carries at the No. 2 spot. Senior Nick Hill is right in the mix and had a good scrimmage last Friday. Holmes and classmate Delton Williams – who got on the field last year – were held out with injuries.
"It's really intense but at the end of the day, we have our own little family and we are all teaching and learning from each other," Holmes said. "We all come strong and we are competing at the end of the day."
Holmes said he was limited last week a little bit by a slight knee sprain. Williams, however, will be limited throughout the spring after having shoulder surgery.
With the increased opportunity, Holmes said it is a big spring for him.
"I don't want it to seem like it's a good thing with Delton out," he said, "but sometimes you've gotta make the best of the opportunity that is there and that's what I'm trying to do."
So as added looks go his way, he is focused on what he can bring to the running back position – a balance of power, moves and speed, he said.
And fortunately for him, come the fall, it won't be against the Michigan State defense.