As a new regime takes over for the Florida Gators defense, many things will be shuffled in and out to comply with new defensive coordinator Geoff Collin’s system.
Defensive schemes, the way meetings are run, rules, regulations and what color Gatorade the guys drink at practice.
But for recruits, especially Trinity Christian Academy outside linebacker Jeffrey Holland (6’2”, 230lbs), the most important aspect that needs to be carried over is the relationships.
“Yea I’ve got to connect to him first as a person”, Holland explains.
“That’s the big thing, I’ve got to connect to him.”
Holland has been able to connect to former defensive coordinator DJ Durkin.
Durkin was Holland’s primary recruiter but after Florida’s bowl game, in which Durkin is acting as interim head coach, he will move on and Collin’s will officially take over all duties as the Gators DC.
One of those duties includes building a relationship with the Jacksonville native who has yet to commit to a school.
Holland says he had planned on committing during the Under Armour game week but has changed his mind and doesn’t know when he’ll announce just yet.
But with signing day on February 4, 2015 drawing closer and closer, Collins has to build a relationship quick, fast and in a hurry and make it as deep as one Durkin had years to create.
Holland does explain though that Collins has started.
“Oh I had a great first impression [of Collins]. I talked to him twice. He’s a great guy; I’ve been hearing a lot about him, he had a great defense, just stuff like that.”
He also says that his interest in Florida hasn’t faltered yet because of the coordinator change, but admits the relationship he builds with Collins will be what his decision comes down to.
“Coach Collins just got to start recruiting me and I got to get to know him.”
One other former Florida coach that Holland got to know was former head coach and current Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
That’s a fact that Holland is keeping in mind, as his decision becomes imminent.
“That impacts a lot”, Holland admits. “I like both coaches, Coach Muschamp and Coach Malzahn.”
And does Muschamp still like Holland as a potential player?
“Oh yes mam, yes mam…he’s saying ‘Lets start, let’s start getting it going. Let’s commit’. He wants me to commit [to Auburn] and bring others with me.”
There’s still pull from Florida though, with a guy that Holland is getting to know quickly; new head coach Jim McElwain who visited Holland in mid-December.
“It went good, it went great, I met him, and he’s a pretty good guy. He also wants me to play offense.”
After years of a head coach who flipped guys to defense, this is a new change, but one that Holland would be happy to pursue.
“He says he want’s to instill me, put me at a tight end, receiver spot…I wouldn’t mind.”
His talents and passion lie in defense though, and with a slew of Gators leaving for the NFL, holes on the defensive line and linebacking core are opening up to join a talented young secondary.
“I can play the BUCK or the WILL”, Holland asserts. But more-so, “That’s exactly what I want to do.”
There’s also those guys who’ve had years of a relationship with Holland who are pulling him to Florida, and based off the smile on Jeffrey’s face while talking about them, they may have the most pull of any other recruiter.
“I got [high school] teammates there, Nick Washington (defensive back). I got two teammates, Washington and Kavaris [Harkless] (offensive lineman), they’re there right now. I know Caleb Brantley (defensive lineman), I know a lot of those guys.”
Another guy he knows is Vernon Hargreaves II, the safety who is quickly becoming Holland’s biggest recruiter.
“Vernon, I’ve been knowing him for a while…[he] just wanting me to commit every time I see him.”
Now if Geoff Collins takes a few ideas from DJ Durkin, a few from Will Muschamp and a lot from Vernon Hargreaves, he may have just locked up the Gators next defensive end.
*Insider Buzz: Holland says he will take an official visit to mostly likely UCLA, Virginia Tech, or Louisville. He plans on taking an unofficial visit to Florida.