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After 10 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL, Earl Holmes was content with a life away from the gridiron. Drafted in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL draft by the Steelers, Holmes played five seasons in Pittsburgh, one in Cleveland and his last three years in Detroit. Having played a total of 140 games, earned 958 tackles, caused seven forced fumbles and amassed 11.5 sacks, Holmes retired in 2005.

Two short years later—in 2007—the game called him back.

“When I retired—my home is in Orlando—I started coaching high school football in Lake Mary, and one day, Coach Taylor called and asked if I was interested in coaching for my alma mater. Of course!” says Holmes.

At the other end of the line was former Rattlers head coach Joe Taylor, well known as one of the most successful coaches in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision. Taylor had stepped into the Florida A&M head coaching position in 2007, replacing Rubin Carter. Last November, with two games remaining in his fifth season at FAMU, Taylor announced his retirement.

Not only would Holmes be going back to the game he loved, the Tallahassee native would also be returning … home. As a former All-American at FAMU, Holmes was a three-time, first team All-MEAC selection and earned the Sheridan Broadcasting Network College Defensive Player of the Year award in 1995. With a total of 309 unassisted and 200 assisted tackles, Holmes’ grand total of 509 tackles set a Rattlers career record.

Holmes was immediately named interim head coach after Taylor’s retirement. He was formally offered the head coaching job in January.

Holmes’ first big test comes on Sept. 1, in the nationally televised MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney, when the Rattlers will face Mississippi Valley State in the ninth installment of the annual HBCU matchup.

Expectations will be high, as the Rattlers are coming off of a 4-7 season, including two disappointing losses at the Bank of America Atlanta Classic (against Southern University) and in the Florida Classic (against archrival Bethune-Cookman).

NFL Veteran Earl Holmes Ready To Take Over The Reigns At His Alma Mater  was originally published on

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