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Holcomb's belief in himself calls him to walk-on to Minnesota

Turns down grid scholarships to smaller programs

Feb. 6, 2012

Germantown football player Ben Holcomb believes in himself.

So much so, that he turned down NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (the level before NCAA Division I) scholarship offers to take his chances as a preferred walk-on at the Big 10's University of Minnesota.

"At first my folks didn't understand me turning down good money to do this," said Holcomb, "but after talking to them and telling them how much I feel certain that I can compete on this level, they thought maybe that it was a pretty good decision."

Holcomb, who led the Warhawks to a 7-3 record last fall as a monumental dual threat receiver/safety, had turned down offers from North Dakota, Northern Iowa and Illinois State.

"I just really think I can do this," he said. "I think I even have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder to prove myself. And I was really impressed with the Minnesota coaches. They were very fired up to have me and think I can work my way into a scholarship in a year or two."

"They'll start me out as a safety and depending how big and strong I get, maybe work me into an outside linebacker's spot."

His high school coach, Jake Davis, does not doubt that the 6-4, 200-pound Holcomb can do anything he puts his mind to.

"This is a great opportunity, a great chance," Davis said. "He has a great deal of confidence in himself. I don't believe the pressure will get to him either. He'll just push right on through and do what he has to do to succeed."

"He's just very coachable. You see a lot of guys come out and play football, but Ben is a real football player."

With state-level sprint and hurdle speed (state finalist in the 110-meter high hurdles, qualifier in the 300 hurdles and a member of the state-qualifying 800 relay), Holcomb backed up that assertion in a big way and was a nightmare to deal with for opposing coaches. He was a big-time deep threat for quarterback Josh Mongan (31 catches for 728 yards and nine TDs) and also a wide-ranging, hard-hitting defender with 34 solo tackles, 30 assists, five tackles for loss and two interceptions.

He was a NOW All-Suburban choice for his all-purpose skills.

Davis sees a lot of another former Germantown defensive back who had a career at Minnesota in the middle-part of this past decade, Kevin Mannion. Mannion played a similar receiver/DB role for the 2003 state champion Germantown team.

"Ben was maybe a touch bigger than Kevin, but they have games that are very much alike," said Davis. "Phil (semi-retired former Germantown head coach Datka who coached Mannion) said they're very similar."

Davis said a key to Holcomb's future success will be his drive. Minnesota's program has had a hard time in recent years (the Golden Gophers were 3-9 last season) and Davis thinks that Holcomb could be the start of something good up there for the team.

"They (head coach Jerry Kill and his staff) are looking for kids who want to be there, who want to help them turn things around," said Davis, "so for him to turn down money to go elsewhere, means he really wants to be there."

"I don't see it as so much of a challenge as an opportunity," said Holcomb. "I just fell in love with the place when I went up there a few weeks ago."

And Holcomb's ambitions aren't limited to the football field as he intends to major in either bio-chemistry, pre-medicine or pre-dentistry. He currently carries a 3.79 grade point average.

As is apparent, he is a man who aims high. His coach also described him as a high character individual whose name was usually the first on any volunteer sign-up list.

"He just feels he belongs on this level," said Davis.

Holcomb to walk on at Minnesota

Other Warhawks to play college ball

ALSO IN THE WORKS: Defensive end Chasen Brown has committed to the West Point Preparatory Academy, a precursor to earning a position at West Point, the Army's military academy. All-Suburban end Louis Tuszynski is still looking at schools yet, but Davis is confident that he will be playing football somewhere next fall.

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