After playing the cornerback position in 2013, Louisville’s Gerod Holliman thought he had found his niche, but when a new coaching staff led by Bobby Petrino took over, including new defensive boss Todd Grantham, Holliman was put at a new position more suited to allow him the freedom to roam.
Then listed by the Cardinals as a safety, Holliman dove headfirst into being a student and learning the in’s and out’s of his new position, and after a full offseason of preparation, the 2014 season awaited, but even Grantham was shocked at the production output from his standout safety. And considering the turnover from the season before, whether due to NFL departures or a scheme switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4, Holliman’s skills stuck out like a sore thumb.
Holliman even had a bit of an inkling what lay ahead in 2014, even dating back to camp.
“I was able to make a lot of plays, and in camp, I led the team with the most interceptions,” Holliman said, according to David M. Hale, an ESPN writer. “When the season started, I was expecting to make a lot of plays.”
Not only did Holliman rack up a handful of plays, he tied a 46-year old record set by Al Worley in 1968, racking up 14 interceptions en route to All-American honors. According to Grantham, he could see the success and accolades coming from a mile away, as Holliman possessed the brains and the work ethic to succeed within his system.
“He took what he had done in the spring and did the things he had to do to get better and really worked on those things in the offseason,” Grantham said, according to Hale. “He was in as good a shape as anybody, and he’s really a smart kid.”
It’s always a sign of respect on the field whenever opposing quarterbacks won’t even throw in your direction, and we can ask Seattle’s Richard Sherman about this, as I’m sure he’d be more than willing to elaborate. Holliman saw a lot of this last season as team’s shied away from him yet he continued to make plays. Ever since his high school days, Holliman has been viewed as a ball magnet, and it’s a trait that Steelers fans hope to get accustomed to, as their secondary has been, for a lack of a better word, inept at creating turnovers the past several seasons.
Taken in the seventh round, an area that’s usually associated with a camp body or practice squad fodder, Holliman seems to possess the intangibles to become a starter in the league, if his tackling skills can be honed, as it’s definitely a red area in regards to improvement. However, with only a year under his belt as an actual safety, his ceiling could be a lot higher than his draft stock. He could be this year’s version of Daniel McCullers, a talented piece of clay that simply needs some molding and tutelage from the coaching staff before being unleashed. After a learning curve in year one, he looks to take on ample playing time in year two, and possibly a starting gig in the near future. If the light comes on for Holliman, he could find himself in a similar spot, as Mike Mitchell could potentially be cut if he under-performs and Shamarko Thomas is a question mark.