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2018 Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame: Andre Holmes

2018 Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame: Andre Holmes

Brad Monastiere has been the sports information director at Hillsdale College since 2005 and has served as the chair of the athletic hall of fame committee since 2015. Here is his accounting of 2018 Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Andre Holmes

The Charger football program has an incredibly successful history, with players from nearly every position being represented in our athletic hall of fame. The wide receiver position gets a significant upgrade with the addition of Andre Holmes.

Hillsdale's current record-holder in receptions and receiving touchdowns, Andre takes his rightful place among the best football players the school has produced in its 125-year gridiron history with his induction. But in 2006, like most incoming freshmen to the program, Andre did not see the field.

Andre got one Division II scholarship offer - from Hillsdale. But that didn't mean he waltzed onto campus and started dominating overmatched Division II secondaries right away. Far from it. A great majority of freshmen get redshirted their first year, for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it's to help balance the academic load with the athletic demands. Sometimes it's because there's more depth at a particular position. In Andre's case, he didn't see game action until more than a year after he arrived on campus. And even in 2007, his redshirt-freshman year, he didn't start a single game.

That would change quickly, as his considerable talent started to be seen in 2008. Although he still didn't crack the starting lineup, he averaged a team-best 16.9 yards per catch. One in particular stands out to me.

On November 1, 2008, the Chargers played their home finale, taking on Ferris State. Early in the first quarter, Andre caught a 72-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Troy Weatherhead on a play where the pass was short, but the run was long. Andre caught the ball over the middle and was closely followed by two Bulldog defenders. As Andre turned upfield, he didn't appear to me to be running all that fast. "Run Andre, run!" I thought to myself from my spot in the press box. Then as the seconds ticked by, I saw Andre separate from his defenders effortlessly. He literally left them in the dust as he ran untouched and unchallenged into the end zone for the first points in what would be a 34-14 Hillsdale win.

Andre provided dozens more moments like this to Charger fans throughout the last two seasons of his collegiate career. He was unguardable. Taller than anyone trying to cover him. Better hands than anyone trying to cover him. Faster than anyone trying to cover him. A pass to Andre was a sure first down, if not more, an element that helped make the Hillsdale offense of 2009 and 2010 among the most efficient in all of NCAA Division II.

Sounds like a charmed life, right? Adversity was waiting for Andre in the form of the NFL.

Despite his obvious talent and physical stature, Andre's name went uncalled in the 2011 NFL Draft. He kept working, and was eventually invited to training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. But he would be unceremoniously cut and was out of football once again. Brief stints with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots were just that: brief. Finally in 2012, he would play seven games for the Cowboys, catching his first NFL pass late that season. But Dallas too, would drop him following that season.

More hard work landed Andre far from his homes in Hillsdale and Chicago, as he signed with the Oakland Raiders in time for the 2013 season. He would flourish in Oakland, playing in 58 games across four seasons, and in 2014, he was the Raiders' leading receiver with 47 catches for 693 yards and 4 touchdowns.

During his induction video, Andre talked about how after all these years, he understands football. The complex schemes, the unseen things different players have to do away from the ball to help teammates succeed. Being able to mentally beat your opponent as well as physically beat your opponent. All this has come together for Andre at a time where he can display his full talents in front of some of the most loyal fans in all of sports in Buffalo. 

Quite the path, from tiny Hillsdale College to being the leading receiver for an NFL team. But through his talent and perseverance, Andre has carved out a fun NFL career. His induction into our athletic hall of fame comes between his first and second seasons with the Buffalo Bills as his football journey is far from over.