Before Wayne "The Bull" Holmes entered St. John's College High School four years ago, he had very little interest in football. He never played at the Boys Club level because he was overweight and watched games on TV until he became bored, usually after a quarter.

"I was just not interested in the game at that time. Never played the game until I came here in the ninth grade," said Holmes, now a senior and a preseason all-American offensive tackle. "Now I can't get enough. I love the sport. I watch games on TV all the time. If I'm not home, I tape the games. College, pro, even arena football, I tape all of them."

Of late, the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Holmes has been watching tapes of himself. It isn't because he gets a thrill out off seeing himself wipe out opposing defensive tackles but because he is looking for mistakes he made. The highly recruited Holmes has make tremendous progress since his freshman season and has set his goal on establishing himself as the premier lineman in the Washington area and the country.

"I just want to be the best player I can be. I've really worked hard on my flaws, lifted weights, watched films, took notes and tried to get in the best shape of my life," said Holmes, a second-team All-Met as a junior.

St. John's Coach John Ricca has been pleased with his lineman's yearly progress. The senior, who could bench press only 135 pounds as a freshman, is now pumping 350 with ease. His blocking techniques, particularly on the run, are very good and his overall ability and endurance has improved enough for him to start at both offensive and defensive tackle.

"You don't keep stats on tackles but you can honestly say he literally buries the guy in front of him," Ricca said. "He used to look like a 275-pound pear but his upper body has caught up and he is impressive. When he blocks for the ball carriers, he engulfs people. We don't throw much so he hasn't had the chance to work on his footwork for pass protection.

"He will be a four-year starter and doesn't mind playing hurt. Last year he was out of school for 10 days with walking pneumonia. He came back and practiced one day before we played DeMatha. He went both ways on a 90-degree day and played very well. He scored better than 900 on the SATs, has a good GPA and is a great kid. That's why all the big schools are looking at him."

One school highly impressed with Holmes is Notre Dame.

"He certainly has caught our eye and we will continue to watch him," Fighting Irish assistant Peter Vaas said. "He has that size, quickness and comes off the ball very well. That combination leads you to believe he would be a fine offensive lineman."

Holmes is not swayed by the preseason hoopla written about him and insists his motivation and desire to improve will prevent arrogance.

"I received a note from a coach, I think it was {Notre Dame's} Lou Holtz who said, 'Never read your own press clippings,' " Holmes said. "I do read mine but never more than twice."

A pleasant, soft-spoken person, Holmes said he was distressed upon hearing of McLean junior tackle David Robinson, who recently collapsed and died of an enlarged heart on the opening day of practice. Robinson weighed around 285 pounds.

"That scared me. I had to sit down and reflect on the pros and cons of playing football," Holmes said. "I wasn't trying to gain more weight, it happened. Now I weigh more than 300 pounds and I know I should lose some. I have had all the tests, including the EKG and other heart tests, but it still scares me when I think about it."

Holmes also threw the shot and discus for the school track team, played catcher on the softball team and plans to play basketball in the fall. The 17-year old also plays tennis, the saxophone in the school band and is a member of several school organizations that perform volunteer community service.

Holmes said he has not narrowed down a growing list of colleges he is interested in attending. And, he admits, getting a shot at the professional ranks is in the back of his mind.

"What high school player doesn't think about the pros?" he said. "But right now I just want to play this year and do what I can for our team to have a good a season as we had last year."

Holmes and the Cadets enjoyed their finest season in a while, finishing 10-1 and winning the Metro Conference championship. Holmes also did a fair imitation of the Refrigerator (Chicago Bears defensive tackle William Perry), carrying the ball on short yardage plays and scoring from a yard out. He had five carries for 20 yards.

"We let Wayne carry the ball a few times," Ricca said. "We had enough big linemen so we could afford to put Wayne in the backfield to either block or run the ball at crucial times. This year we don't have a surplus of linemen and we might not be able to do that again. Plus, Wayne fumbled once on the goal line and that scared me."

Having been large all his life, Holmes has heard all the fat jokes. He says that doesn't bother him a bit.

"You hear everything on the field. I just tune it out and play," he said. "Coach told me the only thing that matters is what you do on the field."