Call to duty
True to his word, Eagle Point’s Tyrone Holmes spent most of Saturday morning hanging out in low-key fashion with his family at a rented house in Ashland.
As the NFL draft moved into its third day, the group went out for coffee and then eventually returned to the house, trying to do everything possible to eliminate some of the stress for the 2015 FCS defensive player of the year as he waited for the phone to ring with good news.
Nothing really worked to keep Holmes off pins and needles as selections were made … save for one fateful phone call.
“Eventually it just got to where we were playing cards and I got a call and it was probably the most surreal moment I’ve had to this point in my life,” said the 22-year-old Holmes.
On the other line was the Jacksonville Jaguars, informing the 6-foot-3, 250-pound University of Montana standout that they would be selecting him with the sixth pick of the sixth round, No. 181 overall.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up when I first got the call,” added Holmes, “but when the conversation turned and it was evident that they were going to use a draft pick on me, I was pretty stoked.”
Holmes’ selection actually was a historic moment for Jacksonville, which for the first time in franchise history used its first five selections of the 2016 draft on defense. After taking Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the fifth overall pick in the first round, the Jaguars selected UCLA outside linebacker Myles Jack in the second round, Maryland defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in the third round, Notre Dame defensive tackle in the fourth round and then Holmes in the sixth round.
Jacksonville ranked 24th out of 32 NFL teams in total defense at 375 yards allowed per game and was the second-worst in points allowed (28 per game). The Jaguars tied for 20th with 36 sacks overall.
“It’s all about the betterment of the team so if that’s what they felt about addressing in this draft and I get to be part of that, that’s awesome,” said Holmes. “I’m honored that they used the pick on me. What really matters is that you’re able to get your foot in the door now that you’re drafted and you have an opportunity to go make the team. Hopefully I can go prove myself and go in there and make an impact.”
Jacksonville drafted Holmes as an outside linebacker but the role he’s likely to fill as a weak-side end (Leo) is keeping with the strength he displayed at Montana as a pass-rusher. As a senior this past season, Holmes led the nation with 18 sacks and finished his career ranked second in school history with 34½ sacks and 49½ tackles for loss.
Holmes visited Jacksonville two weeks ago and left impressed. The Jaguars reportedly took a liking to Holmes through his work at Montana and at the East-West Shrine Game, as well as his during his pro day when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds and did 28 reps in the bench press.
“I think it’s a perfect fit,” Holmes said of joining Jacksonville, where he’ll likely also contribute on special teams. “It’s an exciting program with a lot of young guys and I loved the coaches when I was out there. They’re a team on the up and up and it seems like everytime I turned on ESPN, they are that team everyone’s looking at being good this year.”
The fact that he may get a chance to play a role in the program’s resurgence is completely surreal for Holmes, who dubbed himself “a very proud Eagle Point kid who just wants to represent Southern Oregon the best he can.”
“It’s still a dream, I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” he said of being drafted. “It’s just this mythical thing as far back as when you’re a kid and throughout high school watching the draft and here you are this small-town kid from Eagle Point. It doesn’t really seem like it’s really possible but now here I am and I’ve been drafted and it’s an incredible thing.”
Terms with the team haven’t been finalized but Virginia Tech free safety Kyshoen Jarrett was selected by the Washington Redskins with the 181st pick of last year’s draft and his four-year contract was worth $2,415,630 with a $135,630 signing bonus, according to Spotrac.
Monetary terms, however, were the last thing on Holmes’ mind Saturday as he he rallied around his family to celebrate a dream fulfilled.
“I was so stoked to just get my name called, I have no clue about contracts or anything like that,” he said. “I just feel really fortunate right now to be able to share this with everyone. I’m going to enjoy tonight and tomorrow I’m going to start thinking about the fact that I have to make this team, that’s when the real work begins.”
NFL teams typically invite 90 players to camp and eventually trim down to an official 53-man roster, of which only 46 dress for games. Ten players can be assigned to the practice squad.
Holmes said he will leave for Jacksonville on Wednesday for a rookie mini-camp, then go through organized team activities (OTAs) before the official training camp begins in late July.
“I can’t wait,” he said with a sigh of relief.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry