The junior showed remarkable versatility last season, shifting from cornerback to safety and emerging as a surprisingly strong option in the back. He collaborated well with mainstay Jermaine Whitehead. He hit hard. He was intuitive with his reads, sticky in coverage.
Holsey also missed the final eight games because of a torn knee ligament.
He returns to a different personnel landscape. Derrick Moncrief, a junior-college transfer, earned universal praise throughout the spring while handling Holsey's spot at boundary safety. Though Holsey did an admirable job at boundary safety last season, he's shorter and smaller and less rangy than Moncrief. In fact, it's likely that Moncrief is a better option at that position. So what happens with Holsey?
He's a cornerback by trade and, in a timely twist of fate, Auburn has at least one vacancy there. (Jonathon Mincy's situation status won't be addressed until next week.)
Holsey is a favorite to win the job at boundary cornerback, which fits his skill set perfectly. The only issue there is that his knee will face more grueling tests at cornerback, which is all about quick cuts and quick-twitch reactions. He'll likely be limited in some way -- at least initially. If his knee responds well, though, Holsey can be an immediate contributor and a good one at that.
WHY HE COULD BE HIGHER: Holsey may have the best instincts of any Auburn defender. He's also a tough guy who has no reservations about sacrificing his body to make a stop. He's fearless and fast and shrewd. That sounds like one heck of a cornerback and, well, that's exactly what I think Holsey can become this season. If he locks down a starting job and hauls in a few interceptions, Holsey will be in the 10-15 range on the postseason version of this list.
WHY HE COULD BE LOWER: Is he fully healthy? Is his repaired knee ready for the punishment that comes along with defending the best college receivers alive? If Holsey isn't able to earn a starting job, he'll lose some value. He'll still be useful as a nickel or a dime back, sure, but Auburn needs him in a featured role. He's a featured performer.
2014 OUTLOOK: I'm just not sure how ready Holsey will be in August. He could be 100 percent; he could be tentative. When healthy, Holsey is a difference maker who can provide needed toughness and leadership in the secondary. Based on the rankings above, Bryan believes Holsey is ready to go while Allie and I have some reservations. Holsey will prove someone right and someone wrong within a month.
- Jay G. Tate