Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

May 7, 2014

Boyd’s Holcomb tackling Thomas More

CANNONSBURG — Justin Holcomb is not the most imposing figure on the football field, but other figures help tell his story.

Holcomb hoarded a team-leading number of tackles in each of his final two seasons at Boyd County.

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound linebacker caught the attention of Thomas More College. He signed a letter of intent to be a Saint on Friday, April 25, at Boyd County High School.

Holcomb said his football IQ helped make him college-ready.

“I know I’m not the biggest guy, but I’m really quick at reading the play, reading keys,” Holcomb said. “I feel like I have a good nose for the ball.”

In all, Holcomb had more than 100 tackles as a senior after racking up 80-plus as a junior.

The Lions have experienced 11 wins under three different head coaches over the past three seasons. Holcomb was a bright spot throughout the last two, both of which he started every game. He played middle linebacker and fullback in addition to serving as the team’s longsnapper as a junior.

An All-Area selection in 2013, Holcomb chose Thomas More over Kentucky Christian, Lindsey Wilson and Cumberlands.

“I didn’t feel lost there,” he said of the school located in Crestview Hills, just a few miles south of Cincinnati. “Most of the classrooms are the same size, and you’ll get a lot of one-on-one time with the teachers.”

Holcomb said he learned various valuable lessons from each head coach for whom he played while at Boyd County. John Gilliam, a former longtime Morehead State University assistant, is the current top Lion.

“Coach Gilliam’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met when it comes to football,” Holcomb said. “He’s really progressed my mind.

“He would always say, ‘show me, don’t tell me,’ no matter what I tried to tell him,” he added.

Holcomb also played for Lee Evans and Ray Brooks.

As a senior, Holcomb blossomed into a dependable leader. Despite a one-win season, Holcomb said he had plenty of reasons for avoiding complacency.

“I had people looking up to me,” Holcomb said. “I never thought I was the best player out there, but I hope my younger teammates try to play as hard as they can because they saw that I did.”

Holcomb has spoken mainly with Kyle Prosser, Thomas More’s recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. Prosser, head coach Jim Hilvert and staff may use Holcomb in several roles, according to Holcomb.

Thomas More went 9-1 and allowed just 12.8 points per game last season.

Holcomb plans to study pre-engineering.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.

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