Louisville free safety Gerod Holliman, who has tied the FBS single-season record with 14 interceptions, is turning pro.
Holliman (6-foot-0, 213 pounds) is a third-year sophomore who is draft-eligible, and cardinalauthority.com -- a Louisville-centric website -- reported that he is giving up his eligibility to go pro. It cited "several NFL media sources," including Bleacher Report.
The decision is not a surprise, given Holliman's incredible production this season; he can set the single-season record with an interception in the Dec. 30 Belk Bowl against Georgia. But Holliman -- who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back -- is far from a finished product. His play in run support needs to improve, and Holliman said at last week's media availability before the College Football Awards Show that he has to improve his tackling.
One NFL scout recently said Holliman was "horrible" and that "he can't make a tackle to save his life. He's got pretty good instincts, but he's not that athletic."
Actually, you do have to have some athleticism to come up with 14 interceptions in one season. Holliman plays the ball in the air quite well and has excellent ball skills. When asked for a short description of his play last week, he responded with "ballhawk." He didn't have any interceptions as a redshirt freshman backup in 2013, then blossomed upon his insertion into the starting lineup this season. He credited new coordinator Todd Grantham's defense with allowing him to roam, saying the defense allowed him opportunities to freelance in an attempt to make plays.
Holliman's workouts are important, and his 40 time will be scrutinized. If he, indeed, is a horrible tackler, he will need to overcome that facet of his game with good top-end speed. One potential positive: This is not considered a great class of draftable safeties, which means some safeties could be overvalued. Four safeties went in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.