Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Getting to know Jeffery Holland
By Derek Tyson
Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- On a team loaded with talented prospects, do-it-all athlete Jeffery Holland takes a back seat to no one. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound outside linebacker plays multiple positions for Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, including running back, tight end, wide receiver and, of course, linebacker -- the position most schools recruiting him want him to play. Holland even lined up at cornerback for a game during the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional championships in Bradenton, Fla., over the weekend.
The No. 8 player in the country, his athleticism is something that comes naturally, but it doesn’t hurt that he has pretty good bloodlines too. Holland’s uncle, Carey Holland, won an SEC basketball title at Auburn in 1985.
ESPN Junior 300 LB Jeffery Holland has Auburn and Florida as his early favorites, but Florida State and Ohio State are also in the mix.
"He played with Chuck Person and they know Charles Barkley pretty good, too,” Holland said. "We usually go to the Lakers game every year when they’d come down and play the Magic. We used to go to the games all the time -- they would treat us pretty good when go. Auburn won the SEC championship when he was there -- he still has the ring. He actually gave me his Auburn letterman jacket that says 'SEC Champs' on it, I wear it to school a lot.”
His uncle has been through the recruiting process and still tries to give the younger Holland advice on how the process will play out.
"He said wherever I go he’ll still cheer me on, but he likes Auburn a lot,” Holland said. "He told me this is a business decision, it’s not about making friends and things like that, but about doing what’s best for me.”
Though still early in the process, there are two schools that are standing out for this talented defender.
"I’m going to Florida and Auburn for their spring games. I’d say those two are standing out just a little. Florida is just close to home. I feel like I fit in good. Me and coach [D.J.] Durkin went over the depth chart and the position I would play -- that Buck position -- I like it a lot. I think I would fit in good. With Auburn, my uncle went there. I’m pretty close to the coaches, they call my uncle a lot and check up on him. I like both schools.’
Holland is planning to take all of his official visits and has no timeframe on when he would like to make his verbal commitment.
About his recruitment: Holland is a versatile athlete who can do many things on the football field. The consensus for most schools is that Holland will play outside linebacker on the next level. Florida’s mix of a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense is appealing to Holland. In the Gators’ defense he could rush the passer as well as drop in coverage in some defenses. His family ties to Auburn are clearly a big deal to him and he has built a very strong relationship with the Auburn coaches. Florida State and Ohio State are still squarely in the mix as well.
Scouting profile: You can find some OLB prospects who are stronger in coverage, but you won’t very many who are as disruptive and dangerous as Holland coming off the edge. The ESPN Junior 300 defender is proving to be one of the best pass rushing LBs we have seen in recent classes. With excellent first-step quickness, he quickly gets upfield. He possesses very good bend and ability to shave the edge and close on the QB. A competitive and high-motor player with very good range, he can also be a physical and active presence against the run and can be a punishing tackler. Holland has room to further round out his game, but as a standup edge rusher he is capable of wreaking havoc and that ability can make him a valuable asset to a defense. -- Craig Haubert
Handicapping the race: At this point it looks as if it will come down to Florida and Auburn. His proximity to Florida certainly helps the Gators’ cause, but the family ties to Auburn cannot be overlooked. In the end I believe Holland will end up at Florida, primarily because schematically he is a very good fit in what Florida wants to do. Auburn, however, has shown the ability to recruit at a high level and Holland is a top priority for the Tigers.