Valentine Holmes has shown off his American football skills in a highlights reel he posted to Instagram before he jets off to the US to pursue his NFL dream.
Holmes has been honing his skills in intense training since November, after he sensationally quit the NRL to hopefully make it in the brutal NFL.
And the video, shot by former Cronulla Sharks teammate Chad Townsend, reveals a number of clues about where he wants to play on the field — and that’s at wide receiver.
“This is only the beginning,” he captioned the video.
“Heading over to America tomorrow to officially start my journey to the NFL.
“Thank you everyone for your support.”
In the clip, Holmes runs routes while showing off his footwork and speed — which he has been working on improving while increasing his size.
Holmes is clearly training to become a wide receiver. The video predominantly shows him lining up in a WR stance, leaning forward with one foot a clear step in front of the other, at the line of scrimmage.
He also practises route-running and catching, the two key skills required to play receiver in the NFL.
While Holmes clearly has the athletic ability — his speed is impressive and while he needs to add several kilograms to his frame you can already see he’s added some bulk — it will be his ability to adapt to the mental demands of the game that could determine his future.
Holmes was listed at 185cm and 90kg while playing with the Sharks. For comparison, two NFL receivers of the same height, Amari Cooper and DeAndre Hopkins, weight 95kg and 98kg respectively.
Holmes’ 40-yard dash time is 4.6 seconds. The 40-yard dash is the NFL’s benchmark metric for speed. That falls behind Cooper, at 4.42 seconds, and countryman Jarryd Hayne — who ran a 4.5 while standing 5cm taller and weighing in over 100kg.
You can tell Holmes is a student of the game, but he’ll have to go from rookie to master quickly to nail down one of the most nuanced positions in the game.
In the video, he practises catching over-the-shoulder fades, which are important on downfield passes and touchdown throws; in-breaking or ‘dig’ routes — where the receiver runs along the sideline before cutting sharply towards the middle of the field; and his sideline ‘toe drag’ — where a receiver tries to quickly plant his feet, usually on their toes, inbounds after catching a sideline pass.
With no guarantees, the young hopeful will arrive in Florida at the IMG Academy, where he will compete for a place in the NFL’s 2019 International Player Pathway Program.
The 23-year-old was contracted to the Sharks for 2019 but walked away from the final year of his contract, and the highest offer the club has ever tabled to a player, to chase an opportunity to play NFL.
“I will be forever grateful to the Cronulla Sharks Football Club and the Sharks fans for the past five years of support,” Holmes said in a statement when he was released by the club.
“I understand this decision may come as a shock to many but I personally believe it’s the right time for me to challenge myself and pursue this NFL opportunity.
“Hopefully the fans can understand and support me as they have done throughout my career.”
Published by Staff Writers, 10th January 2019 on foxsports.com.au