Holmes has found a home at cornerback

Sophomore cornerback Lendy Holmes talks about his move from receiver to corner and Saturday's matchup against Texas A&M. (Photos/SoonerPhotos.com)

If you took a poll of the Oklahoma Football team and asked them to name the top five pure athletes on the team, to a man almost everyone would put sophomore Lendy Holmes in that top five. Individually, you can ask different players to give you an example of an athletic exploit that Holmes had done around them, and they have more than one.

OU head football coach Bob Stoops has said on many occasions how amazed he is that Holmes can throw equally well with either hand, and shoot 3-pointers with either hand. Stoops said he has no doubt that if Holmes had the desire that he could go out for the men's basketball team and make the squad despite his commitment to football.

Holmes began his career at wide receiver, but never really established himself in the rotation. He was also at one time the starting punt returner, but failed to catch the ball consistently enough to keep the job.

In the spring, Holmes was moved to cornerback and he immediately showed great promise. Once again, he failed at an early opportunity this year, but when D.J. Wolfe faltered as well Holmes was given another opportunity once Reggie Smith was moved back to strong safety.

That fact that Holmes has begun to play so well at cornerback is one of the big reasons why the Sooner secondary is playing so much better heading into the Texas A&M game Saturday in College Station. Holmes is finally playing up to his athletic ability and recently talked about finally putting it together with OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.

JH: Can you really throw the ball equally well either hand?

LH: "Yes, I can. It really doesn't make a difference which hand I use to throw with or shoot with. It is just natural."

JH: So you can really shot three's with either hand as well?

LH: "Yes sir, I sure can."

JH: Coach Stoops makes it sound like you never miss a shot, so are you a pretty good shooter in hoops?

LH: "If I get into a rhythm I probably won't miss any. With either hand, if I get into that rhythm or that comfortable mode and I start shooting, I will start making whatever."

JH: He also says you can throw 60-yard spirals with either hand?

LH: "Yep. Well, I leave the spiral to the right hand, but with my left I can just put it out there."

JH: Can you explain what you have been through here with your career changing positions and finally finding a spot where you can excel?

LH: "Yeah, I have kind of had some ups and downs. Coming up here, I have had a hard time getting that feeling of how everything is done and how everything is rotated and goes. Coming from where I came from, I wasn't from that type of environment. I was used to seeing the same people every day, and here I had to make a big adjustment. When I started out at receiver I was real comfortable at waiting my freshman year.

"I was redshirted so that I could get stronger, learn all the plays and just get down to what I had to do. Then when my time came I just had ups and downs. I was trying to get up to game speed. Instead of watching, I was in there playing and I was trying to adjust quick and fast to that."

JH: Bobby Jack Wright said before the Iowa State game that coming off a Tuesday practice you practiced so well that he felt that a light had finally come on inside your head. He said he could see you finally realized that you were a good player who could at this level?

LH: "I feel a lot more comfortable than I did at the beginning of the season. I am recognizing things, I am in the film room and I am watching my opponent. I am watching what the receivers like to do and who the quarterback likes to throw it to. In practice, that is where I start to get all my motivation, my comfortable zone, because I am seeing it and I am going out there reacting to it. When game time comes I am just comfortable and waiting on what I know is going to happen."

JH: So you are really studying defensive football now?

LH: "Yes."

JH: If you have always liked playing defense better, why did you come to OU to play wide receiver?

LH: "In high school, I was actually recruited as an athlete. I didn't know where I was going to play, but I wanted to go to Oklahoma. Coach (Darrell) Wyatt recruited me and he was the receiver coach and he liked the things that I did on the offensive side of the ball. He knew that I was a defensive player, but I just worked with him and told him I was going to do this wide receiver thing.

"I never thought I was going to play defense again, but I did mention it a couple of times to the defensive coaches just kidding around with them. But I never thought that I was actually going to go ahead and make the switch."

JH: When Missouri threw that ally-opp against you did you feel you had a good shot to knock the ball away?

LH: "I don't get intimidated on plays like that, because I know I can jump with mostly anybody. It doesn't matter if they are 6'6 or 6'7, I am just going to be competitive and I am going for the ball."

JH: The pictures of that play show that you are up in the air about a foot higher than the receiver.

LH: "I would like to see that."

JH: This defense is playing with a lot of confidence now isn't it?

LH: "Early it was a struggle for us. We were going through a little roller-coaster ride with some ups and downs. I say that basically that teams are going to do that, especially us a young team that is just starting to get it together later on in the season."

JH: Paul Thompson was saying that how you guys are playing now spills over to them and gives them confidence.

LH: "Coach Stoops always tells us that we have to stay disciplined, stay within the system and to stop worrying about the other man's job. He says for you to just do yours. I guess we started to realize that and started to get that through our head. Now everybody does their own job."

JH: What are your thoughts on going to College Station?

LH: "I hear that it is a pretty big crowd down there and you can get distracted. Hopefully everybody will have their mind right and go in there to play the A&M Football team and not the crowd. We need to go down there and just play them and not the crowd."

JH: Does Texas A&M's offense present a different challenge for the OU defense?

LH: "Yes, they do. Stephen McGee is a good quarterback .He is good at both throwing the ball and running it. They like to run some option, some veer and sometimes you can get caught worrying about the run and they throw it over the top of you. They also have some trick plays. I have to be conscious of it and know what I am doing, and the same thing goes for our defense."

JH: What do you thinking of Jovorski Lane?

LH: "He is a good player and a big cat. I am not going to treat him any different than any other player. I am going to get up there and hit him. I am going to try to get to him first and hit him as hard as I can. I will be able to tackle him."

JH: Whas there a game where you said to yourself that you finally had arrived at cornerback?

LH: "I would say the Iowa State game because they had three receivers that had a lot of catches and a lot going on. During that game, I just started to feel more comfortable and I thought, 'Hey, if it is like this then I got this.'

"I just started to get comfortable with myself, started to use my technique and stared listening to what the coach said. During that game, and after that game, I knew that I liked playing corner and felt that I was playing it pretty well."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories