Now at USC, Sarkisian has more talent at his disposal, but he remains true to his offensive philosophy. Short area quickness and speed will be the center point of the Trojans passing game going forward.
Rated the No. 34 wide out nationally and No. 253 in the Scout 300, Holmes combines sudden moves in the open field with smooth route running.
Scout National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins compares Holmes attributes with a current Washington Husky wide out, Jaydon Mickens.
However, Biggins notes one exception in that comparison.
“The guy that he reminds me a lot of is Jaydon Mickens, but I think Holmes is probably a better pure pass catcher than Mickens,” said Biggins. “They have the same size, the same shiftiness and the same game breaking ability.
“I remember when Holmes was just a freshman, the Alemany coaches were already comparing him to DeSean Jackson. I don’t know if he has that kind of burst. He’s not a 4.2 or 4.3 guy like Jackson, but Holmes catches the ball really, really well.
“I like those guys who are pure and polished, but are shifty and can make big plays for you. He can return punts, kicks and put him in the slot.”
Which brings light to the debate on bubble screens. Former USC coach Lane Kiffin often shied away from smaller wide outs because they could not run block on screen or down field. Sarkisian has taken the opposite approach in recruiting smaller wide outs who can make defenders miss.
USC has three players under 6-foot expected to line up at receiver on this year’s roster in Steven Mitchell, an Alemany alum, Adoree Jackson and Ajene Harris. Only Mitchell was recruited by Kiffin.
“I want my shifty, fast game breaker to have the ball in his hands,” said Biggins. “If you’re going to run a screen, there’s a chance that thing could break wide open.
“If there’s a chance for my receiver to make a guy miss and get into the open field, I want a guy that can go like Desean Holmes. I think he is a pretty dynamic player.
“I know he has battled some injuries over the past few months, and that’s something we have to watch with him. Smaller wide outs tend to get banged up more. But when he is on the field, he is an elite playmaker.”
Looking Forward to February
USC now has two wide receiver commitments in the 2015 class. Long Beach City College De’Quan Hampton and Desean Holmes, who are polar opposites of each other. Hampton is 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, whereas Holmes measures in at 5-foot-11, 176-pounds.
USC will likely take three receivers for the 2015 recruiting cycle, but with one big wide out and one small one, their next move remains to be seen.
“Back up a little bit, are we still calling Taeon Mason a receiver commit,” asked Biggins. “I know he originally said USC was recruiting him to play wide out. He can play both sides of the ball, so that may be a conversation for another time.
“I think USC goes after the next best guy on their board regardless of his size. If it’s Christian Kirk or Equanimeous St. Brown, I think you take either of those guys if they want to come.”
Holmes, who started at Alemany, then transferred to Muir for spring semester, only to transfer back to Alemany in June, is once again teammates with USC running back target Dominic Davis.
In terms of his immediate impact on the 2015 class, Holmes recruiting Davis to USC would be as immediate as it gets.
“I never buy into the whole package deal thing,” said Biggins. “It just never works unless two players just happen to like the same school individually and end up there together.
“But Holmes committing to USC doesn’t hurt them with Davis. You have someone in your ear about a certain school. Yeah, I think it’s a positive.
“They definitely compliment each other very well. Dom would be an incredible slot receiver, but USC is recruiting him to play running back. So you have Dom, who if Desean is fast, Dominic is hyper fast.
“He’s was a legit 10.5 100-meter guy last year. They would compliment each other on the same field with Dominic at running back and Desean at receiver. Is that going to put USC over the top with Dominic? Maybe not, but I think he is leaning pretty solidly to USC. Having Holmes is only going to help.”
The timing of Holmes commitment is not only helpful to USC, but Desean himself. As with the commitment of defensive tackle Noah Jefferson, Holmes can now focus completely on his schoolwork.
Eligibility seemed to be as much of a factor in Holmes commitment as his love for the Trojans.
“One of the things he said was that he could just focus on academics and not stress out about recruiting and taking trips,” said Biggins. “He transferred out of Alemany at a very bizarre time.
“I think he did it right before finals, and that’s probably not when you want to leave one school for another. I think he has some stuff to still work on, but I think he is headed in the right direction. He also has a lot of good support around him at Alemany.
“He is committing to his first choice, and I think with Desean, it wasn’t so much about if he would commit to USC, but rather USC would take him when he wanted to commit. Obviously they have taken him and I think that has a lot to do with his progress in the classroom.”