CHICAGO -- In the coming days, Purdue coach Darrell Hazell plans to set up a meeting with senior tight end Gabe Holmes. The message will be simple.
“He can be one of the best tight ends in the country,” Hazell explained to reporters on Thursday, detailing what he’ll say to Holmes.
Hazell expects Holmes to haul in at least 60 receptions this season. In his first three years, the tight end has 35 catches. Once a highly-touted prospect, Holmes has fallen far shy of his potential. That has to change.
While Hazell has yet to deliver his statement to Holmes, Purdue tight ends coach Gerad Parker already has. The first-year assistant is well aware of the pressure Holmes has faced at Purdue. Parker is trying to keep Holmes from pressing.
“A lot of people talk about what I could be, my potential,” Holmes said. “[Parker] just says, ‘We’re done talking about it. You’ve heard it for the last three years. It’s no use to hear it some more.’”
Holmes is a 6-foot-5, 247-pound target who has the potential to be a playmaker. Even Darrell Hazell—who has seen Holmes in just 15 practices—feels the tight end can do so much more.
“With his skill set, his size, his length, the way he can run, he can be one of those top three tight ends in the country,” said Hazell.
There’s reason to believe this will be a breakout season for Holmes. The new pro-style offense implemented by John Shoop will heavily feature the tight end position—especially in play-action sets. Holmes sees himself as a major threat in short-yardage situations where he can create mismatches with his size.
In order for the Boilermakers to be successful on offense, Holmes has to be a threat. He is eager to take on a greater role in the Boilermaker offense. This could finally be it for him.
“I look at it as a blessing,” said Holmes. “It’s a great thing for me. I just kind of look back on the last three years and things didn’t shake my way. I look at it this year that they’ll shake my way. I’m excited.”
Throughout the offseason, Holmes has been working hard to learn the new schemes on offense and tune his game to the new looks. He’ll benefit from the guidance of Parker, his new coach, who has a wealth of knowledge at the position.
With all the size and intangibles, Holmes has the potential to produce. He has plenty of believers.
“He knows the importance of his job,” Hazell said. “Look for him to have a great year.”