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Ex-DePaul star Kevin Holmes excited about son’s NFL draft chances

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Kevin Holmes, a four-year basketball starter at DePaul in the 1980s, didn’t hesitate when presented with a scheduling conflict last week.

Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, Calif., planned to
retire his jersey number Friday while his eldest son, Andre, would be waiting near Hillsdale College in Michigan to see when and if he’s
selected in the NFL draft.

‘‘It’s kind of unfortunate that it happened around the same time,’’ Holmes said. ‘‘But that [decision] was a no-brainer. This is a big time in my son’s life, and I definitely
have to be there for him. I’m an old guy. My window has closed. It’s his time now.’’

Andre Holmes didn’t generate much of a buzz at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, but he dominated at Hillsdale — most notably setting school records for catches (104) and receiving yards (1,368) last season — and has impressed scouts and coaches in the months since. He has talked to numerous teams and visited with the Bears, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.

At 6-4, 210 pounds with 4.4-4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Holmes could be the sort of pick who’d make casual football fans scratch their heads if his name was called during the draft later this week.

Holmes relishes that position.

‘‘I just figure that playing Division II, I’ve always been kind of under the radar, and that gives you a lot more motivation to get your name out there,’’ Holmes said. ‘‘People are starting to get to know my name; I’m getting a lot of calls from teams. I feel like every day my name gets a little bigger.’’

Big time

Andre Holmes always had big shoes to fill. Kevin, who’s 6-8, reached the NIT championship and appeared in three NCAA tournaments, including one Sweet 16 run, with DePaul.

An athletic power forward, Kevin was drafted in the fifth round of the 1986 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was released right before the regular season and headed overseas, where he played for 12 seasons, including stops in Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Turkey and Argentina.

‘‘I thought he was king,’’ Andre said. ‘‘He was well known in Chicago, and he was a star in Europe. People always asked him for his autograph.’’

Kevin is the basketball coach at Guerin High School in River Grove, and he has prepared his five children for a competitive world, on and off the court. He never pushed his children into sports, which is why Andre was such a late bloomer, not taking up football until his freshman year in high school.

‘‘And he played on the B team,’’ Kevin recalled.

Instead, he pointed to his own
career as an example for his children. For instance, he could’ve had a better work ethic.

‘‘There are things I would have and could have done different,’’ Kevin said. ‘‘But you have to be able to accept and own up to your own downfalls or insufficiencies so I could help my kids.’’

During Andre’s senior year, when the football team got off to a disappointing start, he complained about the leadership on the team.

But Kevin stopped him in an aisle at the grocery store.

“ ‘I don’t ever want to see you point fingers at other people when you’re dropping passes and you’re missing blocks,’ ” Kevin told Andre. “ ‘You need to do what you’re capable of doing every time you’re out there, then people will follow you.’ ”

In the next game, Andre’s team fell behind 21-0, but he hauled in several passes and made key blocks to help his team rally for the win.

‘‘That perspective really stuck with me,’’ Andre said.

Draft weekend

On Thursday, Andre’s younger brothers, who play basketball at Mississippi Valley State, will ride the train up to Chicago, then drive with their parents and siblings to Hillsdale. On Saturday, the family will host a draft party for Andre at a sports bar near the school.

Andre’s mom is nervous. Andre’s dad is a ‘‘wreck.’’

Despite all the big games he has played in, Kevin said he has never been more anxious.

‘‘I had gone through that, and I had no nerves,’’ he said. ‘‘Maybe it’s because I’m not in control of it.’’

Numerous teams have Andre’s cell-phone number, so he’s not going to stress himself out.

‘‘I feel I’ve done a lot of work to get myself in this position,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel confident in myself and the abilities I bring to a team.’’

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