RB Gerald Holmes, Flint Carman-Ainsworth HS - (6-foot-1, 205 pounds)
Rankings: Rivals (3 stars), Scout (3 stars), 24/7 (3 stars), ESPN (3 stars)
Other notable offers: Central Michigan, Toledo
When Gerald Holmes suffered an ankle injury in Carman-Ainsworth's 2011 season-opener, the letters from colleges slowed down. Holmes missed most of his junior season, finishing with just 363 yards on 70 carries. But one school that didn't stop looking the running back was MSU.
Holmes rewarded the faith MSU coaches showed by becoming the first player of the 2013 class to commit to the Green and White when he verbally pledged to MSU on Super Bowl Sunday.
In Holmes, MSU has a powerful back who also has some speed, as he runs track for his high school and his coach said he ran in the 4.5 range for MSU. His injury is healed up and he's ready to compete on the track this spring and get ready for his senior football season.
Remember back in 2009, when MSU had a surplus of guys at running back? Well, Caulton Ray and Andre Anderson tranferred before the 2009 season ended, Glenn Winston was kicked off the team not soon after and Edwin Baker left early for the NFL after the 2011 season, along with the normal graduation of players.
A look at the MSU spring football roster shows just four running backs: Le'Veon Bell, Larry Caper, Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford, who is back to running back after spending some time in the defensive backfield. MSU had just one running back recruit in the 2012 class, Nick Thompkins from Georgia, and didn't have any in the 2011 class after Onaje Miller was released from his Letter of Intent. So running back is a position MSU needs to get some commits out of in 2013 and Holmes could have a chance to contribute as soon as he comes to campus in 2013.
As often happens with football recruits at MSU, Tom Izzo helped recruit Holmes to Mark Dantonio's squad, Despite what the above video title says, those highlights from Holmes appear to be from multiple years, based on his other tapes on YouTube. Holmes was a starter as a sophomore. From what I saw, he appears to have good vision, quickly seeing the hole and hitting it. He's not the fastest guy, but he gets away with it because he makes quick decisions, can power through arm tackles and is very physical, a similar style to Le'Veon Bell.
A power back usually isn't a No. 1 guy on most teams, but MSU loves to roll with the running-back-by-committee system, keeping guys fresh. There's always a niche for a power back in a system like that. Holmes' high school coach, Nate Williams, actually wants Holmes to add some more size and strength for his senior season, and Williams has no doubt Holmes will be able to do so.
"[Michigan State] is getting a guy that understands work. I kept him as a sophomore and he was a kid that would go out before school, come back and workout after school, do what the coaches needed. I think he's a guy that doesn't mind work. He doesn't mind working to get better. He understands that's what it takes leadership-wise. He's a kid that's never been in any trouble and is a good kid all around. They definitely have a guy that wants to do great things and a guy they can count on."
As that quote says, Holmes appears to have a good head on his shoulders. Graham Couch from MLive wrote a really good story on Holmes dedicating his play for his mother, who committed suicide more than a decade ago.
"I play every game for her. I'm still doing it now," said Holmes, who has a stepmother who plays a significant role in his life. "It's basically my drive every time. I can't bring her back, but I just play the game for her and just live the right life, that if she was on earth, she'd be proud of."
Another anecdote from that MLive story stuck out to me. During a game as a sophomore, Holmes tweaked his ankle and couldn't finish the game. But he still wanted to help, and he let Williams know.
"He came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Hey coach, I can't run but I can still block.' He went out there and helped block as we passed our way down the field. And when we got near the end zone, he was the lead blocker who led the quarterback in for the game-winning touchdown."
Overall, Holmes appears to be a big, powerful back with decent speed, good vision and a good head on his shoulders. Again, MSU will need some more running backs in this class, but Holmes is a great start.
Previously: An introduction and a look at OL Caleb Benenoch, A look at LB Jon Reschke