ALBANY — Most true freshmEn don’t make an immediate impact in Division i FCS football.
The University at Albany’s Dev Holmes, though, wasn’t like most freshmen.
Holmes, a Troy native, ended his freshman season as UAlbany’s leading receiver in all categories with 50 receptions for 734 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers were not only good enough to place Holmes top-10 in the CAA in receptions and receiving yards, but also earned him an honorable mention for the Hero Sports FCS Freshman All-American team.
Coming into his second season with the Great Danes, the two-time state champion for Troy High School is hoping to build off his breakout freshman campaign.
“A bunch of guys probably want to play at home, but for it to actually happen it’s great to know your family’s only 20 minutes away,” Holmes said Tuesday at UAlbany’s media day. “If you need anything, you can just call.”
The first four games of Holmes’ career likely excited many fans from his hometown — and Great Danes fans, in general — as he started fast. In those first four games, Holmes had at least four receptions and 73 receiving yards each game, as well as three receiving touchdowns.
Soon, though, defenses began to adjust. After Holmes gained 587 receiving yards in his first four college games, he only gained 147 the rest of the way as CAA defenses started to focus on making sure Holmes couldn’t beat them on his own.
“I think Dev saw that as we got into the latter parts of the season, where they said, ‘We’re not going to let him beat us. We’re not going to let him catch nine or 10 balls [per game],’” UAlbany offensive coordinator Joe Davis said. “So [playing through] that falls on his development as a player, which he’s done an unbelievable job this offseason, and it falls on the coaches to say, ‘Hey, how can we free him up and get him in spaces a little bit more?’ Because, he certainly is a dynamic athlete.”
Holmes himself feels confident in his progression coming into the upcoming season, especially in terms of his knowledge regarding how to attack opposing defenses.
“Knowing the ins and outs of the zones the defense plays. The man coverages. Reading the safety. Reading the linebackers,” Holmes said. “That’s going to help a lot this season.”
Holmes, listed at 5-foot-8 and 153 pounds last season, said he weighs approximately 170 pounds heading into UAlbany’s preseason camp that starts Wednesday.
“[It’s] the biggest, fastest and strongest I’ve ever been,” Holmes said. “So, hopefully, I keep gaining weight by my senior year and keep grinding in the weight room.”
“You’ll see his body has changed a little bit,” Davis said. “Pound for pound, he’s one of the strongest players on our team even though he weighs barely 165, 170 pounds.”
Holmes’ increase in physical strength should make him an even more dangerous offensive option for the Great Danes — and one that will be used in a variety of ways.
“I think he’s just a guy that warrants creativity,” Davis said. “So you just have to make sure you’re getting him touches, whether it be in the pass or the run game.”
Tyrell Feaster is an intern at The Daily Gazette. Feaster, a junior at the University at Albany, is majoring in journalism.