It was the Louis Holmes Show at the University of Arizona football practice field Friday night, and the reviews were all positive.
“He is everything I thought he would be,” a smiling UA coach Mike Stoops said. “He is a fabulous player. You can see why he is the No. 1 recruit in the country. He is definitely going to add a dimension to our defensive line and a lot of credibility up front.”
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end, who is the top-rated junior college player nationally, didn’t arrive subtly. He was difficult to miss because he reported with a block “A” hairdo on the side of his head and a frame that towered over almost everybody on the squad.
It seems as if possibly only the debut of “Pirates of the Caribbean” this summer drew more attention than the Scottsdale Community College standout showing up for his first practice.
The premiere was a few months late. He originally signed in December, but failed to gain admittance to UA until Friday. But Holmes is on the football stage, where he belongs.
He wasn’t able to duck the reviewers. Holmes was under the bright camera lights of every local media outlet after going through drills and working out almost exclusively with the second-team defensive linemen.
His new teammates made him feel at home with friendly mocking as they left the field, while Holmes was held back to answer questions.
“Oh, Louis, we love you,” cornerback Antoine Cason teased.
Another kidded, “He’s only been here one day and already he is a star.”
The attention came after Holmes was admitted and officially cleared by UA just hours before the 6 p.m. practice at the Rincon Vista Complex.
And almost symbolically, Holmes is wearing the No. 1 jersey.
Seems only appropriate as he arrives as the first five-star player to get on the field for the Wildcats.
“I am glad to get the year started,” Holmes said. “I have been waiting a long time.”
There is a lot of pressure being put on the young man, and that will continue.
“All this (attention) might not be too fair to Louis. You can’t put the weight of the program on him,” defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said. “He is a great football player. Period. He shouldn’t have any more pressure than anybody else on this team.”
Too late for that.
Holmes has been the talk of the program for a long time. USC’s Pete Carroll and LSU’s Les Miles had a hard time taking no for an answer just before his December news conference announcing he was going to be a Wildcat.
After finding out he was not going to be admitted to UA, Holmes became a recruitable athlete again.
There was no way the Wildcats were going to give up on a player who also considered Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma, Tennessee and Florida State.
The last thing that needed to be done was a two-credit class that was completed Thursday, earning him his associate degree.
“Other schools contacted me, but I didn’t answer the phone,” Holmes said. “I was pretty much set with Arizona.”
And, oh yeah, he came up big at practice Friday night, too.
Holmes made his presence known by rushing quarterback Adam Austin out of the pocket and into a bad pass.
“I’ve said that first impressions go a long way,” Mike Stoops said. “I had a really good first impression. He has great quickness and size and strength.
“The game comes easily to him.”
John Moredich’s e-mail: email@example.com.UA football gears up
UA football gears up
University of Arizona football players received their equipment on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 1-2, 2006 at the Edward Thomas Equipment Center, at McKale Center. Coach Mike Stoops and his team will begin practice Thursday evening at the Rincon Complex. Arizona will begin the season with a home game against Brigham Young on September 2.
Producer: Val Canez