Coming out of college, Andre Holmes had quite a resume.
He had good size for a wide receiver at 6-foot-4, had 104 catches for more than 1,300 yards as a senior and was athletic enough to be his conference’s track and field triple jump champion.
But Holmes was performing for Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan, and NFL scouts weren’t certain he could thrive in pro football. So, he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011 by the Minnesota Vikings. Since then, he bounced from the Vikes to the Dallas Cowboys to the New England Patriots. Finally, in May, he was signed by the Oakland Raiders after being waived by the Pats.
After serving a four-game suspension early this year for a violation of the NFL’s drug policies, he was activated by the Raiders in October.
On Thursday, in a Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys, Holmes finally flashed the talent he showed at Hillsdale.
Holmes, 25, went into the game with three catches this year for 65 yards, but caught seven vs. the Cowboys for 136 yards. With receiver Denarius Moore sidelined by injury, Holmes was quarterback Matt McGloin’s go-to receiver.
“He’s a guy that will go and get the ball for you,” McGloin told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group after Thursday’s 31-24 loss. “He’s a guy I look forward to try and get the ball to because he does good things when he gets the ball in his hands.”
Even the Cowboys, who had Holmes for nearly two seasons – most of it on their practice squad – were impressed by what they saw from him in a Raiders uniform.
“That was the practice-squad Andre we were counting on the following year,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Dallas News. “We’ve seen him do that and have seen it a lot, and a matter of fact, (quarterback) Tony (Romo) was talking about, ‘Man, we’ve got a receiver who is just outstanding and he’s probably going to be one who can help us.’
“But when we got him out there and got him in the group, we didn’t see that. I guess we were just a little impatient, but he sure could get it.”
In seven games with the Cowboys in 2012, Holmes had just two catches for 11 yards.
After his performance against his former team, Holmes was glad to have been able to show what he could do.
“I had a calendar, and I checked it because I wanted to come here and play well in front of the team I played for,” Holmes told McDonald. “It just sucks that we didn’t get the win. A lot of guys came over and said, ‘Good job.’ It felt good to see all of them and give me support.”
For the Raiders (4-8), Holmes now has an opportunity to cement a spot on the roster for 2014. Though the Raiders are out of the postseason picture, Holmes will get his chance to shine over the final four games – beginning with a Dec. 8 at the New York Jets – as a No. 3 target behind Moore and Rod Streater.
Certainly, McGloin has shown he’s not reluctant to throw him the ball.