After failing to land a big, bruising linebacker in the Class of 2011, South Carolina made that type of player a target in the rising senior class.
It didn’t take them long to find a prospect that fit the bill. St. Piux X Catholic (Ga.) standout T.J. Holloman, who stands 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, committed to the Gamecocks last month after visiting Columbia for USC’s spring game.
Based on sheer size alone, Holloman compares to former stalwart Jasper Brinkley, who was an intimidating inside linebacker for the Gamecocks before moving on to the NFL. However, Holloman, who has 4.63 speed, may ultimately prove to be more versatile and athletic. He projects to play outside linebacker at USC, which would be impressive considering his size.
St. Pius X Catholic coach Paul Standard joined GoGamecocks for a Q&A about Holloman:
Question: What is South Carolina getting in T.J.?
Answer: South Carolina is getting someone who is an exceptional leader. He’s also a very smart football player, the kind of kid that really cares about his teammates. I was really surprised that he committed so early, because I felt the recruiting of T.J. was really just about to get heated up. But my point of saying that is that he felt good about his visits to Carolina and felt that since they had enough confidence to offer him, he wanted to go ahead and commit. And he’s very committed. Others schools like Nebraska, Tennessee and Auburn have come in trying to offer him, and he said, “Coach, I’m committed, and I’m going to South Carolina.”
Q: What positions and roles does he fill for your team?
A: A little bit of everything. By trade he’s our [weakside] outside linebacker who makes all the adjustments in our defense. He was also our quarterback for half the season because our quarterback was injured. We’re an option team, and he actually broke our school record for rushing yards in a game last year. He had more than 250 yards in a game. He’s also played running back and played receiver for us. He also returns punts for us. He does a lot for our football team.
Q: In your scheme how is T.J. used?
A: We play in the public school league here, and a lot of teams are in the spread. Therefore, he’s playing a lot of pass coverage. There are a few teams that are similar to us and try to pound it. When we face them we play him up on the line of scrimmage.
Q: How much athleticism does it take to have that kind of success at his size?
A: A lot of kids are athletic but don’t use it. He does. He may even end up playing safety for us this year. We’ve got some kids that can play linebacker. Not that they are better than him, but they can do it at the high school level, so that would allow us to move him to safety against different teams depending on what we’re facing. He’s that versatile that he can make that type of change and be successful at it.
Q: Does he project at outside linebacker in the SEC?
A: Yes, I think so unless he gets so big that they put him on the ground [at defensive end]. But I don’t think that will happen. He’s got the speed to play there and definitely has the size. He can drop back into pass coverage. I don’t think he’s a safety at the next level, but he’s definitely an outside linebacker.