Bullis junior defensive end Jonathan Holland missed his team’s first game of the season against St. John’s with an injury, a 42-0 Bulldogs loss. He returned the next week, and his team never lost again on its way to an IAC title. As soon as Holland added a few games’ worth of highlights to his recruiting reel, the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder’s recruiting exploded. His first offer came from the University of Illinois, offers from West Virginia and Pitt have come since, and plenty more will likely be coming soon. Holland, who enrolled at Bullis prior to last school year after seven years at rival Landon, spoke with Recruiting Insider about position switches, recruiting, and the thing he seems most proud of judging by how often and enthusiastically he spoke about them: his IAC champion teammates.
Recruiting Insider: What do you think went so well this season?
Jonathan Holland: I feel like it was a really good team effort. After losing the first game of the year to St. John’s, we really had to come together and make sure nothing like that happened again. We all came together, worked hard, and did what we had to do.
RI: You and 14 other teammates (listed below) were honored with All-IAC recognition, according to your coach, Pat Cilento. Who really stuck out to you this season?
JH: As far as who played well, of course [running back] Devonte [Williams]. He had a spectacular season. Pretty much did everything we needed in our rushing game. And we were able to run the ball against all of our opponents. Apart from him, I think Damani Neal, who’s actually a freshman, one of our linebackers here, he got all-IAC and I thought it was great because it’s his first year playing high school football. He’s got three more playing after this one, so I feel like he’s going to do great things in the future. Those guys and Dwayne [Haskins Jr.], our quarterback. He’s a sophomore and he’s going to do great things. He did great things as an underclassman taking over the varsity team and doing a good job of it. So I feel like he’s going to do great things in the future also. We just have a lot of young talent and a lot of it was named All-IAC. I think we’re going to do great things.
RI: You had 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks switching back from offensive line, where you played as a sophomore, to your natural spot at defensive end. Were you happy with your season personally?
JH: Last year, I started at offensive tackle, didn’t play much defense. But this year, losing probably our best defensive player, Peter Angeh, who plays at U-Mass. now, coaches told me I needed to step up and take over the defense along with middle linebacker Chris Aust, who played great this year, also. We all had to come together and take over the roles that some of the seniors left last year. I felt like I needed to do what the team needed me to do to be successful.
I was always a defensive player, even when I was younger. At [Landon] I was always a defensive player. Offensive tackle, I just took up last year. This year, instead of playing offensive tackle they moved me to tight end (Holland had six receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns), which I think was a good move, because I already knew how to block and everything. So they just had me go out and run routes and catch the ball which I think added another dimension to our game, being able to utilize the tight ends like that. So I think making the transition to tight end was easy. Defensively, the switch wasn’t hard because I had played there in years prior.
RI: What do you think makes you a good defensive end?
JH: Defensive end is the position I want to play in college, the position schools have offered at. For me, I like being able to play big and not too close to my defender. I don’t have to get close to the person blocking me and use my length to get around them. I like playing defensive end because I can get outside and not far down and use my moves to get around people easily and get in the backfield and make plays.
RI: So where are you in the recruiting process?
JH: The recruiting process definitely took over earlier this season, probably midseason. It really shot off. I started hearing from Ohio State, and after that, schools started flooding in. So far I’ve been offered from University of Illinois, University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia, so those are the three offers I hold right now. And mostly it’s just a lot of unofficial visits. I went to Penn State this past weekend, Ohio State this upcoming weekend, West Virginia the weekend after that and the weekend after that I have Rutgers. So a lot of visits coming up and a lot of things going on. There are a lot of schools keeping in touch. It’s been nice and exciting and good to hear from all the schools.
Probably after the third or fourth game of the season when I started my midseason highlights, that’s when a lot of schools started coming in. I remember my first offer from the University of Illinois, they messaged me through Facebook that morning. They asked for my transcripts and all that stuff. So I sent that out to them. Later that night, they offered me. So it really put in perspective how quickly the recruiting process can come in and how quickly people can offer you if they’re really interested.
It’s been nice. Some of the schools I’ve been hearing from are schools I grew up watching. Schools I grew up watching their teams play and their coaches coach and things like that. So it’s nice thinking about these are the teams I grew up watching and may be able to play for them one day.
RI: What are you looking for in your school?
JH: For me, I know my parents also, they definitely want me to go to a place where I can get a good education, along with great football. Some of the schools I’m looking at offer that. They’re all schools with academics and good football and where I could try to play early maybe and definitely get a good education. I also definitely want to go to a place where I’m comfortable and know the coaching staff on a personal level and creating a relationship with them. And a place where I’m comfortable being for my four years in college. With all those things, I definitely want to take my time in the recruiting process and go every place and get a feel for the campus and stuff like that before I make a decision.
RI: Your teammates have also garnered similar interest from schools during your time there, as senior offensive lineman Justin Herron is committed to Rutgers and your classmate Devonte Williams has offers from several schools. Has that helped you as your recruiting has picked up?
JH: It definitely helps me. I know Justin Herron, he committed to Rutgers, and that cleared the way for me because the Rutgers coach that recruited Justin is talking to me now. Other players like Devonte Williams, who already has offers from Temple, Western Michigan, and Buffalo, when schools come they come to see me, Devonte and other players, I feel like that’s good for the whole team when a few players bring in college coaches. It helps everybody out. For Justin and me, they saw Justin blocking, so they saw me right next to him blocking, too. That opened up the door for me to talk to Rutgers, and that’s the way all the college coaches can talk to others, so it benefits all of us when college coaches come because they could see something in one player they didn’t see in another player.
RB Devonte Williams
QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.
OL Justin Herron, Jindu Chiazor, Damola Orimolade
LB Chris Aust, Noah Spriggs, Damani Neal
NUMBER CRUNCH: 42
Tackles made this season by Bullis freshman linebacker Damani Neal, second-most on the team.
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VIDEO OF THE DAY:
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Volleyball: Forest Park takes on No. 5 Langley in the Virginia 6A state semifinals at 3 p.m. and Princess Anne challenges No. 3 Stone Bridge in a 5A semifinal at 7 p.m. at Virginia Commonwealth University Wednesday.