Husky Roster Review: Holmes Finally Settles In After Pair of Portal Dalliances

The safety twice changed positions and numbers since last season.
Vincent Holmes ended up back on defense by the end of spring ball.
Vincent Holmes ended up back on defense by the end of spring ball. / Skylar Lin Visuals

Vincent Holmes had a fairly productive first season for the University of Washington football program, working his way into game time over the latter half of the schedule. A freshman safety from San Jacinto, California, he stepped onto the field on special teams against Stanford, USC, Oregon State and in the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon.

His second season in Montlake, however, is where everything got a little out of whack.

Following the coaching change from Kalen DeBoer to Jedd Fisch, the 6-foot, 174-pound Holmes entered and withdrew from the transfer portal.

A two-way athlete and 4-star recruit in high school, Holmes next went to see Fisch and asked him if he could switch from safety to wide receiver, both positions he had played in high school, and it was a request that was granted.

"I said, 'Sure, it doesn't matter to me right now,' " the coach recounted. " 'We're just looking for football players. I don't care if you're an offensive player or a defensive player.' "

Holmes lasted three weeks as a UW pass-catcher, it apparently didn't work out for him and he entered the transfer portal a second time.

His story does not end there. Holmes reversed himself once more, withdrawing from the portal and returning to the Huskies -- only this time as a safety.


This is one in a series of articles -- going from 0 to 99 on the Husky roster -- examining what each scholarship player and leading walk-on did this past spring and what to expect from them going forward.

Vincent Holmes began spring ball on offense as a wide receiver wearing No. 16.
Vincent Holmes began spring ball on offense as a wide receiver wearing No. 16. / Skylar Lin Visuals

It's clear in the chaos that can be college football these days that Holmes got a little too cute in trying to plot out his college career and find the best way to get on the field and stay there.

In the words of actor David Carradine as a noted martial-arts expert: patience, grasshopper.

Leading up the Sugar Bowl, Holmes acknowledged how his first year at the UW had gone better than expected with his special-teams assignments, with most coming in huge games with a lot of implications.

"It was pretty fun, like something different being out there, with everybody having fun and flying down," Holmes said in New Orleans. "I never thought I'd be out there my freshman year. It was pretty exciting and I like it."

It got so confusing for Holmes, he twice went through numbers changes. After wearing 18 as a freshman safety, he switched to 16 as a pass-catcher in spring practice because fellow receiver Camden Sirmon had his old number as an offensive player. Once he moved back to defense, Holmes pulled on 27 because cornerback Curley Reed already had No. 16 on defense.

After sitting out two practices and being removed from the roster, Holmes returned and participated in the final eight workouts, including the spring game.

Back in Montlake, Holmes looked happy as he stood in the sunshine on the East practice field, looking skyward with the sun beating down on his face, a safety seemingly for good.

Vincent Holmes goes through an interception drill in spring.
Vincent Holmes goes through an interception drill in spring. / Skylar Lin Visuals


What he's done: Again, Holmes played in four outings as a freshman, some of them huge matchups, as he got his career started in 2023. During spring ball, he finished strong after his second portal return, coming up with a pair of loud popping hits in the spring game.

Starter or not: Still a promising player, Holmes probably doesn't start this season because the Huskies have veterans Kam Fabiculanan and Makell Esteen penciled in as the starters entering fall camp, plus transfers Cameron Broussard, an All-Big Sky safety from Sacramento State, and Oklahoma safety/nickel Justin Harrington joining in the competition. Yet someday, if he can stay patient, Holmes should get his shot as a first-teamer.

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Dan Raley


Dan Raley has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, as well as for and Boeing, the latter as a global aerospace writer. His sportswriting career spans four decades and he's covered University of Washington football and basketball during much of that time. In a working capacity, he's been to the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the MLB playoffs, the Masters, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and countless Final Fours and bowl games.