Holder Perseveres

Jordan Holder never blinked through years of getting oh-so-close to playing time only to be left at the altar, barely outside the wide receiver rotation. His perseverance has paid off in his final collegiate year.

If at first you don't succeed, try again.

For Ole Miss senior Wide Receiver Jordan Holder, one could say try, try, try, try again.

His entire career at Ole Miss, Holder, the son of former Rebel WR Jamie Holder, had two goals: earn a scholarship and get a spot in the wide receiver rotation.

Both came true in the last 10 days.

A week ago Sunday, Holder received a scholarship from Coach Hugh Freeze - which he quickly gave away, a story within a story we will rehash in a minute - and then he got to play, and produce, against Vanderbilt last Thursday night in a 39-35 comeback win by the Rebels in Nashville.

Holder caught three passes for 20 yards, one a key third quarter, third-down conversion deep in Vandy territory on a shoe-top snag on a Rebel TD drive during a crucial time in their comeback bid.

"On the first play of the game, I had to pinch myself because Bo (Wallace) threw it right at me. I made the catch and felt good to get it out of the way so I could relax and just start playing," Holder recalled. "From then on, I was comfortable and I feel I helped the team with my contributions."

It's been a long road for Holder to get to this point - a trusted member of the WR rotation.

"Whatever I went through was worth it after Thursday night," Holder said, quietly. "The Good Lord had a plan for me and I'm just glad it worked out."

It looked as if Holder's time had come last August when he had a good camp going into the 2012 season, but he was left on the cusp of the rotation again.

"I had to earn the respect and trust of the coaches," he said. "I learned the offense inside and out and started showing them - even more - that I could do the job. I had to eliminate my mistakes to break through and I did this fall camp.

Jordan Holder
Chuck Rounsaville

"I knew early in camp, when I was sticking with the ones most of the time that I would probably get a shot, but I didn't get my hopes up and kept grinding. I just stuck to it and it finally panned out for me."

With all due respect to Holder, and all the "little guys" trying to make their mark in a big man's world, he doens't look like the prototype wideout.

Donte Moncrief is 6-3, 226 pounds. Laquon Treadwell is 6-3, 215 pounds. Holder is listed at 5-11, 179 and doesn't look that "big" next to them.

So what put him over the proverbial hump?

"I'm quicker than I look (smiled) and I have deceptive speed. I feel I have good hands. And as long as I have been doing it, I have learned all the little things necessary to get open," he explained. "You have to be able to recognize if a blitzer is coming or a safety is dropping down on top of you and things like that. You have to know coverages to know how to run your routes. That's what I have gotten better at this year and that has helped me get where I am now."

Holder got to show his wares more and more after Vincent Sanders went down in early August with a broken collarbone and Ja-Mes Logan was moved from slot to the outside.

He made the most of his extra opportunities.

"I made plays in August. It was as simple as that," Holder noted.

For his play in camp, and years of stick-to-it demeanor, Freeze gave him a scholarship in the Rebs' annual Commitment Ceremony, the Sunday before the opener.

Holder was elated.

"I always wanted to earn one and get one. I was very happy when I did," he stated.

His sense of accomplishment, however, had nothing to do with the monetary benefits of a scholarship. He proved that quickly when he gave his scholly to TE Justin Bigham, one of his best friends.

"We were sitting by each other in the commitment ceremony and while I felt great about getting one myself, I felt bad he didn't," Holder stated. "He's a great guy and had earned one just as much as I had, in my mind.

"I was elated to have reached my goal but sick to my stomach for him. I just didn't feel good about it."

Holder called his Dad and told him what he wanted to do. Jamie was all-in.

"My family has been blessed, plus I am only taking one class this semester. Justin is taking a full load," Holder explained. "He's been in a tight spot with college at times and I just wanted to help him out."

Justin tried to thank Jordan and even got a little bit emotional. Jordan kept it light.

"I told him to shut up," he laughed. "He would have done the same thing for me. I know he appreciated it, that's all that mattered. He didn't have to say anything."

Holder was trying to keep his act of benevolence to a good friend quiet, but that wasn't going to happen.

"I did it for Justin, not to get congratulated or thanked, but once it got out, I got a lot of Facebook messages and texts from people I didn't even know telling me what a great thing it was for the Ole Miss family. I was humbled, but it was the right thing to do," he added. "Again, he would have done it for me in a heartbeat."

With his debut behind him and the Rebel offense putting up 39 points in a tough environment, Holder is excited about the potential of the Reb offense.

"I think we showed everyone we can move the ball and score. I think we have a bright future this year," he closed. "We went stagnant in the second quarter. We never got in a rhythm and kept making mistakes.

"In the second half, we calmed down and started chipping away. We didn't panic and we started making plays and getting in a rhythm. Once we got some confidence, we started rolling. I am really looking forward to the rest of the year. I can't wait."

And Jordan Holder was, and will be, a big part of it all.

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