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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    It’s official: Holmes is a Cat

    Defensive end Louis Holmes, a junior, practices Saturday at the Rincon Vista Complex. Holmes, widely recognized as the No. 1 junior college recruit in the nation, officially joined Arizona Friday.
    Defensive end Louis Holmes, a junior, practices Saturday at the Rincon Vista Complex. Holmes, widely recognized as the No. 1 junior college recruit in the nation, officially joined Arizona Friday.

    Louis Holmes was finally just another Wildcat, and that suited him fine.

    Barely 12 hours after making his long-anticipated, much-scrutinized debut with the Arizona football team before its second session of fall camp Friday, the nation’s top-rated junior college recruit joined many of his new teammates in line at the Wildcats’ Media Day photo shoot in McKale Center.

    Where his every move had been closely watched and questioned by the attending media the night before, Holmes was left to stand around as he waited to film his pre-game introduction for the Arizona Stadium video board. When his turn passed and he walked onto Lute and Bobbi Olson Court to join other players who were flipping through the team’s media guide or chatting with reporters, Holmes flashed perhaps his biggest smile in six months.

    “”It’s still hitting me, it’s still hitting me,”” he said. “” But I know I’m on the team now.””

    Holmes’ status with Arizona had been up in the air since late January, when it was found the defensive end would not qualify academically for the spring 2006 semester. That nullified the letter-of-intent he had signed with the Wildcats and made him a recruit once more.

    Soon thereafter, Holmes moved down to Tucson from Scottsdale and began taking classes at Pima College. He also attended Arizona’s spring practices and picked the brains of both the team’s coaches and workout partners who play for the Arizona Cardinals.

    He found out Thursday that he had passed the two-credit class he needed to obtain his requisite associate degree and spent much of Friday going through the usual pre-practice motions: filling out paperwork, taking a physical and getting fitted for a helmet.

    After Friday’s practice, Holmes insisted his drive to play under head coach Mike Stoops never wavered.

    “”Other schools contacted me, but I didn’t answer the phone,”” he said. “”I was pretty set on Arizona.””

    NCAA rules had prevented Stoops from commenting on Holmes until he decided on a team. The third-year head coach has gushed about the 6-foot-6, 270-pound end ever since.

    “”He shows a great amount of control on the field, and that’s what I was most impressed with. He looks like he’s been there his whole life and has been practicing with us his whole life,”” Stoops said. “”It’s a positive sign, and I think he’s going to make our whole team better.

    “”He’s still one guy. But I think the guys are excited to have him here.””

    Defensive ends Marcus Smith, a redshirt senior, and Jason Parker, a redshirt junior, both said they are glad the controversy behind Holmes has passed.

    “”We heard a lot of great things about him. It was finally great to see him out (at practice),”” Parker said. “”He’s going to be a great aspect to the team, and we’re going to need the best players here to get the job done. It’s a great addition to the team.””

    Smith said he looks forward to the possibility of him and Holmes lining up as starters, saying he thinks the two of them are fairly even physically and athletically.

    “”The only difference is that I’ve been in the defense for a while,”” Smith said. “”So once he gets into the defense and knows his assignments, the sky’s the limit.””

    Although the majority of the team’s newcomers have reported to practice, Arizona is still waiting for a few players’ academic situations to be resolved.

    The list, highlighted by widely-acclaimed five-star junior college defensive lineman Gabe Long, also includes four of the 22 athletes that constituted the Wildcats’ second straight top-20 recruiting class in February: defensive ends Braylon Broughton and D’Aundre Reed, running back Derke Robinson and defensive back Michael Turner.

    Reed, Robinson and Turner have been observing drills in street clothes at fall practices, though there is no official word on when or if they will report.

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