With four wide receivers held out of Sunday’s practice – the third of the fall and first with both helmets and shoulder pads – the Owls moved Holmes from the slot to wide out.
“When something happens, there’s a way to create something good out of it,” Kiffin said. “That’s exactly what’s happening. We probably wouldn’t have moved him outside. We moved him outside today, so he did some good things out there.”
Outside receivers Jovon Durante, DeAndre McNeal and Pico Harrison were either limited or held out of Sunday’s practice. Durante, a transfer from West Virginia, and McNeal a former Texas Longhorn in his second season at FAU, both ended spring atop the depth chart at the wideout spots. Kiffin classified all the wide receiver injuries as “minor.”
At 5-10, and 180 pounds, Kiffin still believes the explosive Holmes is more suited to playing in the slot, but FAU already has Willie Wright playing there. As a freshman Wright led FAU in catches, 56, and receiving yards, 657.
If the move outside becomes permanent, or even part-time, it could give opponents something they didn’t have to deal with as much last year.
With Wright, Holmes and Durante all on the field at the same time, defensive secondaries will have to cover speed, speed and more speed.
“He’s a home run hitter, just like all the other receivers,” said Wright, the fourth receiver limited during Sunday’s practice.
Holmes said news that he’d be working with the first unit as an outside receiver made him smile.
Moving to a different position, at least for the time being, is helping Holmes learn Kiffin’s offensive system. He also welcomed the chance for more repetitions during practice.
“For sure,” Holmes said, “More opportunity to show what I can do.”
Holmes and Kiffin have a long, but not always memorable, history together. While the head coach at USC, Kiffin famously offered Holmes a scholarship during the playmaker’s sophomore season.
By the time Holmes reached college age, Kiffin no longer coached at Southern Cal and the Trojans were pursing different receivers. On Sunday Kiffin joked when recalling his original impressions regarding Holmes.
“I don’t really remember,” Kiffin said. “That was a lot of drama ago. A lot of trauma ago.”
A late academic qualifier, Holmes enrolled at San Diego St. before transferring to Southern Utah, then College of the Canyons.
He’s finally playing for Kiffin an entire continent away from where he originally planned. Three days into camp, Holmes said it’s not what he expected.
“Not at all,” Holmes said. “It’s hard. You have to do your job at a high level and compete.”