With an extraordinary Rattler resume, Earl Holmes has made a case to be one of the greatest – if not the greatest -linebacker in the history of Florida A&M football.
Before being drafted in 1996 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round, Holmes finished his career at FAMU with a school record 509 tackles (200 solos).
During his senior season in 1995, he accumulated a single season record of 171 tackles, while 101 of those were solos (another single season record). In a game against Southern that season, Holmes recorded a single game record of 30 tackles.
The criminal justice student also tied a team high five interceptions during the ’95 season.
His exceptional tackling ability is credited to his ferocious hitting capability.
Holmes hitting earned him the nickname “Hitman.”
Following that senior season, Holmes received the honors of Mid-Eastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College & Gazette Division I-AA Defensive Player of the Year. Holmes was also a Division I-AA All-American during his junior and senior seasons.
Holmes earned All-MEAC honors during his final three seasons at FAMU, as he was a six-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Holmes scampered for 132 yards and grabbed 111 tackles, respectively.
The native of Tallahassee attended Florida A&M High School.
As a linebacker and defensive end, Holmes was twice named to the All-State and All-District teams at the bottom of the hill.
At the young age of 29-years-old, Holmes has just finished his seventh season in the National Football League.
He started off his career with a bold statement, telling Steelers’ head coach Bill Cowher that he just selected the best linebacker in the 1996 NFL draft.
While in the NFL, “Hitman” has certainly lived up to his nickname.
In seven seasons, Holmes has averaged around 96 tackles (about 71 solos) per season while starting 97 percent of the games that he’s suited up for.
During his sophomore season in the NFL, Holmes totaled 10 tackles in the AFC Championship game against Denver on Jan. 11.
After six years with Pittsburgh, Holmes switched teams and is now playing on the Cleveland Browns.
Holmes led the Browns in tackles with 128 (101 solos) in 2002.
He still resides in the place that he was born, Tallahassee.
The “Hitman” is the epitome of a Rattler as he continues to strike, strike and strike again on professional football fields across America.
-compiled by Ibram Rogers