- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’re about to finally get a glimpse to see why there’s all this buzz about Andre Holmes.
Wednesday’s OTA session, which will be the first one this offseason open to the Valley Ranch media, will be the first time any of us have seen Holmes actually run a pass route. But there will be a lot of eyes on the second-year undrafted receiver because the coaches and front office are so high on him.
Holmes was the first name out of Jerry Jones’ mouth at the scouting combine in February when the Cowboys’ owner/general manager discussed the possibility of losing Laurent Robinson in free agency. With Robinson taking a rich deal from Jacksonville, Holmes has as good a shot as anyone at claiming the No. 3 receiver role.
Scoff if you dare, but just remember that Miles Austin and Victor Cruz are NFC East examples of receivers who have soared from the obscurity of being a small-school guy passed over in the draft to stardom in the last few years.
Here is what we know about Holmes, who signed with the Cowboys after being cut by the Vikings at the end of preseason and spent most of 2011 on the practice squad:
*He is 6-foot-5, 208 pounds, was timed at 4.51 in the 40 at the combine and measured with a vertical leap of 35 inches.
*Much like Austin at Monmouth, Holmes was a late bloomer at Division II Hillsdale College after playing receiver only one year in high school. After redshirting, he caught only 38 passes for 648 yards and four touchdowns in his first two seasons. He had a breakout year as a junior (77 catches, 1,076 yards, six TD) and the most productive season in school history as a senior (104 catches, 1,368 yards, 11 TD).
*Holmes’ mix of size, athleticism, ball skills and competitiveness impressed the Cowboys’ coaches and front office enough that they promoted him from the practice squad to the 53-man roster late last season to prevent another team from claiming him. They did so despite the fact that Holmes had a hamstring injury because they considered him a valuable prospect.
*He’s part of a pack of receivers who will be competing to replace Robinson. Kevin Ogletree is the only one of the bunch with NFL experience, but he was handed the job last year and failed, opening the door for Robinson to emerge. Others in the mix are Raymond Radway, the former Abilene Christian track star who would have made the team as an undrafted free agent last year if not for a gruesome broken leg suffered in the final seconds of the preseason finale; 2012 fifth-round pick Danny Coale; 2011 sixth-round pick Dwayne Harris; and a handful of undrafted rookies.