- Blair Angulo, Reporter, WeAreSC.com
MISSION HILLS, Calif. -- When the final horn sounded Friday night, ESPN Junior 300 receiver Desean Holmes (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) immediately sought out a familiar face.
There was something the highly coveted athlete had to do before making his way toward the postgame handshake line. Holmes eventually spotted former teammate Steven Mitchell, a freshman at USC, on the sideline. He smiled at him and put up two fingers. Mitchell returned the gesture, and the good friends later came together just like old times.
A week earlier, the 5-foot-11 Holmes added a scholarship offer from Oklahoma to his list, bringing his total to eight. USC, a school he strongly considered committing to when it offered in early May, has long been a favorite, especially with Mitchell in the fold.
“Coach Ed Orgeron has been sending me letters to my house and at school every day,” Holmes said following an important 38-24 victory against Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure. “Recruiting is getting heavy, but I have to stay focused on the moment. It’s very tough to see what is happening with USC, but that comes with being the best. I wanted to commit at first, yes, but now I want to take my time and see what is going to happen.”
Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Texas and Texas A&M have also shown heavy interest in Holmes, who is rated No. 19 at receiver and No. 136 overall in the 2015 class. He is one of 33 prospects from California ranked inside the ESPN 300.
“Hopefully, if I keep working hard, I could bring improvement to whatever school I go to,” Holmes said. “Everyone is sending me letters right now.”
UCLA appeared to be the frontrunner in his recruitment as recently as two weeks ago, but Holmes said he is no longer considering the Bruins following an incident at the Rose Bowl ticket window. He intends to release a top 10 sometime next summer before the start of his senior season.
When Mitchell left for college, Holmes stepped into the No. 1 receiver spot at Alemany. The transition has not been easy.
“It’s hard because [teams] double-team and triple-team me now,” Holmes said. “It is frustrating, but I just let my teammates make plays too. We’re a team. Steven used to draw the double-teams last year and I was making the plays. He’s told me how to deal with it by just working hard and letting everything come to me.”
It would be easy for Holmes, like many other highly regarded recruits, to look toward next fall, when he is set to be one of the best players in the region.
But with Mitchell providing guidance, that’s not the case.
“We want to go undefeated this year,” Holmes said. “That’s all I’m focused on. We’re all in for this year.”