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Louisville's Gerod Holliman has 13 picks, one shy of record

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David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports
Lousiville safety Gerod Holliman has picked off 13 passes so far this season.

It has taken a while for Louisville free safety Gerod Holliman to get where he is. That's fine, though, considering where he is is on the verge of making history.

Holliman (6-foot-0, 213 pounds), a sophomore who is draft-eligible, leads the nation with 13 interceptions -- one shy of the single-season record set by Washington cornerback Al Worley in 1968. Holliman by himself has more picks than 111 teams.

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Holliman had three interceptions in Saturday's win over Boston College, including on the first play of the game; it was his fourth game this season with at least two picks. He has had an interception in eight of Louisville's 10 games and has three games remaining this season to set the record.

Holliman's ball skills never have been in question. A scouting report by Rivals.com in 2010, when he was a high school senior at Miami's Southridge High, called Holliman "a very instinctual player (who) reads run/pass very quickly. His ball skills are excellent and he always seems to be in the right place at the right time." Holliman had 12 picks as a high school senior.

But there have been some roadblocks. Holliman -- who is one of 14 Miami natives on Louisville's roster -- signed with Louisville in February 2011, but had to go to prep school for academic reasons. He re-signed with the Cardinals in February 2012 but had to redshirt that season after suffering a shoulder injury. As a redshirt freshman last season, he started twice and had 16 tackles, three pass breakups and no interceptions.

He also lacked consistency, and while Holliman was considered a likely starter this season, Louisville's new coaching staff seemingly wasn't convinced he could do the job. The Louisville Courier-Journal points out that the new staff signed junior college transfer James Sample to provide immediate help at safety and also moved cornerback Terell Floyd to safety.

Their concerns were unnecessary, as Holliman has done a great job of patrolling the back end of Louisville's defense. Sample also has done a great job at strong safety and leads the Cardinals with 64 tackles, giving Louisville -- for the fourth season in a row -- one of the best safety tandems in the nation. The past three seasons, the Cardinals had Hakeem Smith and Calvin Pryor at safety; Pryor was a first-round pick of the New York Jets in the 2014 draft. And Floyd has been moved back to corner, where he starts.

Louisville's final two regular-season games come against Notre Dame (Nov. 22) and Kentucky (Nov. 29). Given Irish quarterback Everett Golson's propensity to throw interceptions, Holliman could at least tie the record in Louisville's next game.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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