On the Edge

Rockledge (Fla.) High School head coach Chuck Wood has sent several edge rushers to the NCAA Division I level, and he thinks recent West Virginia signee Johnny Holmes stacks up with any of them.

"John is the kind of kid whose motor runs all the time," Wood told BlueGoldNews.com. "Practice, games, anywhere. All the time. He's a physically strong kid who doesn't get knocked off his feet and makes a lot of plays in the backfield. He never gives up on anything."

Although Holmes played at end in a three-point stance for much of his career at Rockledge, West Virginia is initially slotting him as an outside linebacker. That could change over the course of his career if he adds size, but Wood believes that he can be a great player no matter where he winds up on the field.

"I don't know whether West Virginia will play him with his hand on the ground or not," Wood said, referring to the traditional three-point stance for a defensive end. "We played a 3-4 here, and he played more on the end for us. We've had some great ends and players here, but he's one of the best we had. He's done some amazing things that you can't teach. He's just a great athlete.

"In the end, I think he could weigh 240-245 pounds easily. He's still thin right now, but he could carry that much weight without a problem and not have it affect his speed."

Like many players who are having trouble reaching qualifying test scores and grades, Holmes is not a bad student, according to his coach. He simply dug himself too deep of a hole early in his high school career to climb out of.

"I think that's the biggest problem in his case," Wood agreed. "He got behind the eight ball his sophomore year, and got so far behind he couldn't get out of it I think he will do just fine, and I think he can do the work. He's a good kid, and he has set a lot of goals for himself. I think he will meet his goals, too.

"There's no doubt he would have more offers if he were eligible," Wood continued. "Once it looked like he wasn't going to qualify, the junior colleges started lining up for him. He had more than 20 juco offers. But I think this is the best thing for him – to get somewhere and not have to move around. I know he and his mother enjoyed his visit to West Virginia and felt like it was the best fit for him.

Wood, who has coached at Rockledge for 19 seasons, also believes that head coach Rich Rodriguez and his personality are good fits for Holmes.

"When I met Coach Rod, he was very personable and a nice guy. I know he's a very intense individual too, but that's good, because John likes playing for people like that."

Holmes is expected to enroll this fall, no matter what his qualifying status.

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