Photo courtesy of Beaufort County School District
By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
Beaufort High School didn’t spend much time looking for its next football coach – and the Eagles didn’t have to look far, elevating defensive coordinator DeVonte Holloman to replace longtime coach Mark Clifford.
“Coach Hollomon knows our kids, they know him, and they know the expectations,” BHS athletics director Linc Lyles said Monday. “The transition is easy when you hire within, and we’re excited about the enthusiasm that he brings and the way he connects with our young kids.”
Holloman, 26, was a standout linebacker at South Carolina from 2009-12, collecting 207 career tackles, and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He recorded 26 tackles and two sacks in nine games with Dallas before having his career cut short by a neck injury that could have left him paralyzed if he continued to play.
The early exit from the NFL led Holloman back to USC as a graduate assistant, and he landed at Beaufort in 2015. While walking away from his playing career was difficult, Holloman feels his premature retirement led him to his true calling.
“As much as I hate to say it, even when I was playing in college and in the NFL my mom always told me I would be a coach,” he said. “Eventually I’ll have to call her and tell her she was right.”
Holloman certainly brings a different feel to the job by replacing Clifford, a self-proclaimed “old school” coach who led the Eagles to a 109-59 record in 14 seasons before resigning following a 7-3 season.
“We were already making some changes as we were going along the last couple of years, just trying to get a little bit more energy into the program,” said Holloman, who just finished his third season with the Eagles. “Kids are a little bit different these days.”
While Holloman says he hasn’t gotten as far as considering changes to offensive and defensive schemes or who will call plays, he’s excited to have more of a hand in the offense – his “first love” before he started playing defense full-time. He’s also humbled by the chance to be a head coach – of a competitive Class 4A program, no less – at such an early stage in his career.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Holloman said. “I’m more excited than the kids were, and that’s saying a lot, because they were pretty fired up.”