It’s less than two months until the 2016 season begins and less than seven months until the recruiting class of 2017 can sign their National Letters of Intent. With fierce recruiting battles underway for the top recruits in the country, it’s a good time to get to know the players who appear poised to become college football stars in the near future. So far, we’ve analyzed Najee Harris, Dylan Moses, DeAngelo Gibbs, Devon Hunter, Foster Sarrell, Tedarrell Slaton, Austin Jackson, Trey Smith and Stephen Carr, some of the top-rated recruits in the class of 2017, according to Scout.com. This week, it’s Darnay Holmes, the No. 8 player in the class.
Name: Darnay Holmes
Rank: No. 8 overall, No. 1 cornerback
Height/Weight: 5'10”/185 lbs
High School: Calabasas (Calif.) High
Commitment status: Uncommitted
Scouting evaluation (from Scout.com)
Holmes is an electric two-way performer who can play on both sides of the ball but projects best as a corner. He has explosive speed, very quick feet and can turn and run with anyone. He's also a physical corner who loves to play in press and has an edge to him. He's strong in run support and isn't afraid to come up and hit you but really excels as a pure cover man. He's also a talented return man and should impact early returning kicks.
Holmes more than lived up to the hype at The Opening, proving his blazing speed with 4.32-second and 4.35-second times in the 40-yard dash. He also shined in coverage during seven-on-seven play and in one-on-one drills and showcased his versatility as an effective receiver.
On the recruiting front, Holmes has set three official visits for the fall, scheduling trips to Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio State. The Calabasas, Calif., native will continue to take unofficial visits to nearby UCLA and USC and is also heavily considering Stanford and Tennessee.
UCLA is regarded as the favorite to land Holmes, but he seems to be warming to USC. “There was a lot of uncertainty with the coaching staff before, but now there’s a sense of comfort at USC,” Holmes told Scout.com, specifically mentioning his approval of new Trojans defensive backs coach Ron Bradford and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.
Michigan also appears to be in the thick of the race, and Holmes will take an unofficial visit to the Wolverines on Aug. 6 for the BBQ at the Big House event before taking his official visit in the fall. Michigan cornerback David Long and wide receiver Dylan Crawford, both players from the Los Angeles-area, are working Holmes hard. “They’re telling me you can’t pass up on that Michigan degree and Michigan football with coach [Jim] Harbaugh,” Holmes told Scout.com. “You will always have a spot on an NFL team with his brother coaching the [Baltimore] Ravens. They’re just preaching a lot of things.”
Nebraska could have an edge from a pair of recruiters on Holmes’s team at Calabasas High. Teammates Tristan Gebbia, a four-star quarterback, and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., a four-star wide receiver, both committed to the Cornhuskers earlier this year. Holmes plans to announce his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
How he fits
A speedy cornerback with strong coverage skills who plays with physicality will fit in just about anywhere. Holmes isn’t lacking for confidence, so even if a school like USC has loaded up on talent at corner lately (five-star Jack Jones in the class of 2016, five-star Iman Marshall and four-stars Ykili Ross and Isaiah Langley in 2015 and five-star Adoree’ Jackson in 2014), don’t expect that to scare him off. “Wherever I go, they could have a depth chart of all five-stars, I’m going to compete and win a starting job,” Holmes told Scout.com.
Once Holmes settles on a school, one potential source of intrigue will be whether his new coach plays him on both sides of the ball. Over the past two seasons, he has caught a combined 144 passes for 2,236 yards with 25 touchdowns while also rushing 54 times for 411 yards with four scores, according to MaxPreps. Holmes is a skilled returner, too, and racked up 343 yards on punt returns last season. “It doesn’t matter to me where I play because I’m going to dominate on whatever side of the ball they put me on,” Holmes told Scout.com. “I’m going to force schools to want to put me on both sides of the ball.” Essentially, Holmes is sure to see the field early in his college career; the only question is in how many different positions.