WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Written by Michael Fragale
Jerry Holmes was a standout defensive back for two seasons on WVU’s 1978 and 1979 football teams after coming to Morgantown from Chowan Junior College in North Carolina.
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Holmes earned all-East and totaled 175 career tackles in his two-year Mountaineer career and was a captain his senior season. Despite a limited time in the Mountaineer uniform, Holmes still was named a member of WVU’s all-1970s team and earned the award for the team’s most valuable player in 1979.
The Newport News, Va., native received his degree in business administration at WVU in 1980 before enjoying an 11-year career in the NFL and the USFL. Holmes signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets in 1980 and played there until 1983. Holmes then spent a year with the Pittsburgh Maulers in 1984 and with the New Jersey Generals in 1985 before coming back to the NFL. Holmes returned to play for the Jets in 1986-87 and also saw time with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers before ending his pro career in 1991. His NFL career totals included 25 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
Holmes’ gridiron career didn’t stop when his playing days were over. Holmes quickly made the transition to coaching joining the Hampton staff as the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator from 1991 to 1994. Holmes then returned to his alma mater to coach the defensive backs under Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen from 1995-98. He helped guide the famed defensive unit of the 1996 team to first in the nation in total defense and fifth in pass efficiency. He also coached All-America defensive back Aaron Beasley, who went on to have solid pro career.
Holmes then moved to the NFL where he coached defensive backs for the Cleveland Browns (1999-00), the Washington Redskins (2001) and the San Diego Chargers (2002-03). Holmes was defensive coordinator and later head football coach at Hampton (Va.) University until 2008.
He and his wife Patricia have one daughter, Natasha.