EP's Holmes commits to play at Portland State

Finding the opportunity too good to pass up, Eagle Point senior defensive lineman Tyrone Holmes gave his verbal commitment to play for Portland State University during a home recruiting visit by a pair of Viking staffers Monday night.

Holmes, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound multi-sport talent, cannot officially sign with Portland State until the February signing period but he assured Tuesday that he was "100 percent" committed to the Vikings, who are part of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

"It feels so good to be over with it," Holmes said Tuesday of the recruiting process. "At the beginning, it's really exciting because you have all these big-time colleges talking to you and then it gets stressful because you're looking for offers and trying to decide where to go. I feel really good that it's over. I'm just really relieved more than anything because there's a lot of stress involved."

It was Holmes' job to put opposing teams under stress all season for the Eagles, who finished third in the Midwestern League and 4-5 overall. Even with teams avoiding plays in his direction, Holmes finished with 10 sacks and 68 tackles in seven league contests in sharing honors as co-defensive player of the year and co-league player of the year.

"He's one of those special players that you don't have very often," said Eagle Point football coach Jacob Schauffler. "He's a kid that we're going to miss immensely next year."

Holmes' greatest asset is his tremendous athleticism for someone his size. He'll embark on another year as a starting post for the Eagle Point boys basketball team today and has been an all-conference fixture since he stepped on the court thanks to his quick feet and soft touch in the paint. Last spring, he accomplished a remarkable feat at the Class 5A track and field state meet when he won the shot put with a heave of 56 feet, 33/4 inches and also placed fourth in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.16 seconds. Holmes was ninth in the discus but does boast a personal-best heave of 138-7.

Holmes said his relationship built with the Portland State staff, specifically Steve Cooper, who handles Oregon recruiting for PSU, and defensive line coach Malik Roberson, were part of the draw to eventually head north next fall. The Vikings began showing interest last spring and initially offered Holmes a scholarship before his junior season was complete.

"I had the best relationship with the coaches there and that program is really on the rise," Holmes said of choosing PSU. "They've got a bunch of kids from Oregon that are pretty good players going there and I know I could be successful there."

Another factor for Holmes was in his ability to study marketing while at PSU.

"I'm really excited for him," added Schauffler. "It's been an interesting ride for him because everything just kind of started happening really fast this last year."

Holmes wasn't on the radar of most programs until his track season opened some eyes to the tremendous physical traits he possesses, and both player and coach credit Marist head coach Frank Geske with sparking interest in Holmes.

"He's been a huge help to me," Holmes said of the MWL coach. "They have a lot of Division I recruits come out of there every year and he knows a lot of people and he really helped put my name out there."

Holmes attended the Nike Football Camp over the summer and PSU coaches were in attendance. Obviously nothing they saw first-hand caused them to change their mind on what he could offer their program, which went 7-4 under second-year head coach Nigel Burton this past season — up from 2-9 in 2010.

"They really liked the fact that I'm a bigger guy with some football speed," said Holmes, who drew interest from Washington State, among others, before that option eventually dropped off during the recruiting process. "They said they don't really find that too much."

The Vikings went 5-3 in Big Sky Conference play and lose 27 seniors, including seven starters on defense and four starters on offense. Of the potential returners, one-third will be seniors in 2012.

Former Crater High standouts Zach Zelecki and Tyler Turituri were redshirt freshmen this past season for PSU, while ex-South Medford quarterback Josh Milhollin was a redshirt freshman who missed the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Zelecki was recently named the Vikings' Scout Team Player of the Year at the annual team banquet.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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