Tyler Holmes' football career has been shaped at TU
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
11/09/11 at 3:36 AM
Tyler Holmes' size is expected to help pave a professional football career for the Tulsa offensive lineman.
In Canada, the large 12-year-old couldn't play football with his friends because he was too big. North of the border, you are often placed on teams based on your weight, not your age.
Football didn't begin for Holmes until he reached high school, where there weren't limitations. After four years, he landed a scholarship at Tulsa. On Saturday, the 6-foot-4, 301-pound offensive tackle will play his next-to-last regular-season football game at Chapman Stadium when the Hurricane hosts Marshall for an 11 a.m. contest.
"It's been great going out there playing with guys that I've played with starting three and four years ago," said the quiet-natured Holmes, who is from Ottawa. "I've enjoyed it."
Holmes entered the TU program as a Canadian, but will leave with dual citizenship. He took an oath in Oklahoma City in January to secure American citizenship as well. His father Richard Holmes is a United States citizen.
Tyler Holmes has spent nearly a fourth of his life in Tulsa. He remembers the day that he arrived on campus - Jan. 6, 2007.
How much has Holmes enjoyed his stay at TU? Thanks to a redshirt season in 2007, he graduated last year and could have departed for the Canadian Football League. He was a first-round draft pick and seventh overall by Toronto, a team that sacrificed two lower draft picks to move up the ladder to claim rights for Holmes.
Instead of playing in the CFL - where his father was a star running back for Calgary - Holmes decided to return to TU.
"I always knew I was going to come back," said Holmes, who is working on a master's degree in corporate finance. "These guys are my brothers, and I couldn't do that to them in my senior year."
Holmes doesn't like talking about a possible NFL future, opting to focus on the final weeks of his Tulsa career. But he likely will get looks after having a career that includes all-conference honors.
Holmes' leadership has earned him respect. While a lead-by-example guy, teammates still to look up to him.
"Tyler, he's a great senior." running back Trey Watts said. "He comes out to work every day. He's not very loud and he's not going to bark at you a lot but he has this look and, when he gives you that look, you know that it's time to go, time to work. People will start picking things up.
"As he's gotten older he's become more of a leader and you can just tell how well he knows the offense and he just does so many great things, and he might not always get the credit that he deserves but he's out there working his tail off every day and it definitely shows on the field with the way we've been running the ball."
Holmes was recruited to Tulsa by former offensive line coach Mark Nelson, a CFL veteran himself, during a recruiting combine in Ottawa. Holmes was running late, so he didn't participate, but Nelson offered a scholarship without watching him work out. Holmes chose TU over Houston and Akron.
Holmes' dream of playing American football in college was complete. It began when he started as a high school freshman and took off in earnest when he began working out with his father, who Tyler Holmes says was his No. 1 inspiration.
"He's probably the single-most reason why I made it to the states and played football," Holmes said. "He sent game films to universities and was always a great supporter."
Is Richard Holmes proud that his son followed his football path?
"I think he's passed me," Richard Holmes said with a laugh. "I went to a smaller school and he's doing excellent. He's more than I expected and he's just doing it all himself ... it makes me proud."
Holmes said he's thankful for everyone he has met at Tulsa and gave praise to all of his offensive line coaches - Herb Hand, Spencer Leftwich and Denver Johnson.
"I'll always remember the people, the relationships I built and friends I made," Holmes said.
C-USA: MARSHALL (4-5, 3-2) AT TULSA (6-3, 5-0)
11:10 a.m. Saturday
Chapman Stadium, Tulsa
Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: Shaped in Tulsa
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World