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Better Know a Freshman: Kavahra Holmes - Mr. Speed to Burn

Kavahra Holmes is not in this picture, but he wants to catch passes from this guy.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Kavahra Holmes is not in this picture, but he wants to catch passes from this guy. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

I always peer through the old BKaF just to see if I used a nickname before, but I stumbled across this and had a chuckle, sigh, sob and post. I wasn't around to comment on the saga as it unfolded, but regardless of whether or not I "like" the guy, I'm really, really sad he won't be on the 2013 LSU Football team. Anyhow /tangent.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming. Let's talk Kavahra Holmes. Holmes comes to LSU as the "other half" of a quality, productive WR duo from Breaux Bridge. Many suspect his more highly touted (though still somewhat under the radar) teammate, Travin Dural, to be an immediate contributor. Holmes is viewed as more of a long-term project, though one with a somewhat lofty upside. He predominantly played WR in HS, but as we've come to learn recently, he's now flipped to DB after a few days at WR in Baton Rouge. The move isn't entirely surprising, considering his athletic prowess. But what does the future hold for Holmes? After the jump, I Gannetize this column into your brain.

As you have likely already gleaned, and can tell from the photo above, Holmes is a HS track star, who will be a dual-sport athlete at LSU, much like his football teammate Derrick Raymond. I'm generally skeptical of dual-sport athletes unless they are absolutely all-world (think Julius Peppers). Trindon Holliday did both, but he was nothing more than a role player for the football team. Chad Jones played both and had his moments on the diamond, but his main focus was on the gridiron. Xavier Carter did both, but his real talent was on the track. We've had others enter as dual-sport guys (Ronald Martin) and quickly stick with one sport. Judging by the pictures, Holmes looks like a sprinter. He's lean and muscular. He's not overly tall (remember, Usain Bolt is an anomaly). But his highlight tape isn't bad:

Kavahra Holmes WR #2 (Football Highlights 2011) (via travindural123)

First of all, he's still fast in pads. He's got some suddenness to him. That start/stop ability is a big-time attribute, whether he winds up on the offensive or defensive side of the football. I'm always fearful when you see guys that can really run, but make a living catching 2-yard screen passes and then sprinting. Holmes does some of that, but they use him down field too, and he can catch the football. He's got some leaping ability. He has good size (6'1", 180). So he's not all speed.

They say you can't coach speed, which is a lie. Usain Bolt doesn't eat twinkies all day, show up at the track and set world records. He's gotten to where he is through hard work, training, and coaching. He's learned how to turn his natural speed into all-time speed. But in a sense, yes, it's true, not everyone is born with the ability he has. Same goes with Holmes.

So what does all of this mean for his football future?

I'm not terribly surprised he's gotten looks on both sides of the ball. He's faster than Mo Claiborne, but not as smooth and effortless. His ability to get to top speed in a hurry bodes well. As a corner, that's a really important trait in coverage. As a wide receiver, it's really important for getting separation in anything other than a go route.

He looks tailor-made for the kick return game. He does have that "fastest guy on the field" mentality of breaking everything outside, but that can be corrected, usually by experience. He doesn't dance a whole ton. He does dance some, and he does try to cut back and make huge plays. He won't likely be able to do that next level.

He can catch some. The coaches probably got a decent feel for how much already. They likely also just want to see what he looks like on the other side. Maybe he takes to it quickly and they know he can play there? Maybe they just feel like they need another body out there right now because of Mathieu being dismissed? Maybe they really don't know where they want him to be? I take the move to DB as a compliment to his athletic prowess less than a, "Yeah, you can't play WR" admission.

From an amateur perspective, I like him a lot at WR. My initial comparison to maximum upside for him was Mike Wallace. Similar sizes (Holmes may actually be bigger). Explosive speed. Lower-rated recruits. It's pretty unlikely he's ever as good as Mike Wallace. Few are. But that type of athletic upside is present.

There's a chance Holmes could wind up as a track-only or football-only player. In fact, I'd say there's a pretty good chance this happens. So few are elite in both that they are often either nudged by one coach to pursue one or merely decide to put all their efforts into one to preserve their future. At this point, it's really impossible to know on Holmes. He's only got a handful of practices under his belt.

High End: 2-year starter at WR or CB. Potential all conference.

Low End: Leaves team to pursue track full-time.

Realistic: He likely winds up as a role player on the football team and a good sprinter in track. I suspect he'll have moments of brilliance and moments of sheer nothingness.