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Man in The Middle

By on May 22nd, 2013 in Football Comments Off on Man in The Middle

January 10, 2011 – University of Phoenix Stadium. It’s the third quarter of the BCS National Championship game, the Oregon Ducks are trailing the Auburn Tigers 19 -11. The Ducks have the ball and are driving into Auburn territory. On 3rd and long, Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas drops back to pass but he is hurried by a blitzing Tiger middle line backer and the pass falls incomplete.

That may not seem like such a big deal for a middle linebacker, after all that’s his job. But this linebacker was a true freshman backup … 19 year old Jake Holland. He had proved his savvy enough as a freshman for Gene Chizik to allow him to call a zone blitz in the biggest game in college football.

Coming out of high school, Jake was a 6-A All-State middle line backer and ranked by both Rivals and Scout as the No.8 MLB in the nation. He put up huge numbers in his three years of high school ball and over two dozen colleges offered him a scholarship.

Jake really seem to come into his own as the Tigers’ starting man in the middle in the fifth game of the 2011 season against South Carolina. He was assigned the task of containing the Gamecocks leading rusher and Heisman candidate Marcus Lattimore.

Holland responded to the challenge with six tackles and two forced fumbles. More importantly, he locked down the nation’s third leading rusher. Lattimore was held to 66 yards and wasn’t able to catch a pass all night as the Tigers defeated the No.9 Gamecocks 16-13.

It was starting to look like Jake was going to be the beast that signed out of Pelham High School in 2010. But then his game was slowed down significantly from several injuries and by the Florida game he had lost the starting job to senior Eltoro Freeman.

Most fans were aware that Jake had some injuries last year but many didn’t know just how severe the injuries were. To start with he had two high ankle sprains. It’s difficult to walk with even one high ankle sprain much less trying to play football with both ankles hurt. He also played with a torn bicep and broken bone in his right wrist.

But Jake has a true tough as nails line backer personality and he kept practicing and trying to play. He didn’t give up. He didn’t throw in the towel. He kept working and going to rehab everyday.

Why would Jake subject himself to playing through so much pain? There can be only one answer – Jake Holland is a football player – a throwback, gritty, hard nose football player.

Even though he missed almost half of the season, he wound up with two interceptions and 43 tackles including 4 for a loss. Just think what a healthy Jake Holland will be able to do in 2012.

It didn’t take long for new Defensive Coordinator Brian Van Gorder to realize what he had in Holland. He has already said that Jake will be the clear-cut starter in the middle, making him the key man in the Auburn D.

Van Gorder has a reputation for demanding tough physical play from his players. He knows better than most that playing SEC football is a tough assignment and playing middle line backer in the SEC is an even tougher assignment.

The timid need not apply. Only guys that are football savvy and are tough as nails are fit to be the

Man In The Middle.

Comments: 7

Holland also was critical in the recruiting success of that 2010 class…

Several key AU players that will see time this season were picked up by Jake and his Dad when they would make trips to Auburn for events such as Big Cat Weekend.
This could be the year that Jake puts his name up on the NFL draft analysts board for the 2014 draft. He deserves it. Nice post atm, enjoyed the read.

Come and join me at

by KoolBell777 on May 23, 2012 | 7:40 AM

Welcome back Kool

You’ve really beem missed around here.

“The reason you come to Auburn is because of Auburn people.This is a special place, from the coaches all the way to the fans” – Andrew McCain OT

by AubTigerman on May 23, 2012 | 7:56 AM
Tiger on the mountain

I’m digging these player profiles!!!

“We see the door; we’re here to knock it down”-Cam Newton
by Tiger on the mountain on May 23, 2012 | 8:48 AM
Acid Reign

It certainly was

….obvious when Holland was out of the game on A-Day! Great piece.

……Drowning in cool elixir.

by Acid Reign on May 23, 2012 | 9:35 AM

Great post ATM….a welcome reminder

I think Mr Holland got short shift from a lot of people, myself included, regarding his play last year. I knew he was hurt, but not to this degree. Its very enlightening to know what he was trying to fight through to help his team…..which was out of necessity, since we just didn’t have the bodies at LB. I have a new level of respect for the young man.

If Holland can come back and lock up the middle for us, it will be a HUGE boon for the defense. There is no doubt we are going to be small and or inexperienced on the outside so having Holland step up and be that Bynes/ Dansby-esque force in the middle will change the entire makeup of our D and free up the line to go more zealously for the QB. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys play. I’m not sold yet on a great defensive renaissance for us, but I do believe the potential is there for our defense to be extraordinary.

I love the smell of Auburn in the autumn… smells like….victory.

by Col.Angus on May 23, 2012 | 10:34 AM

Agree with this statement:

I’m not sold yet on a great defensive renaissance for us, but I do believe the potential is there for our defense to be extraordinary.

Yea looking forward to seeing what BVG can do with the defense.

by PineMtTiger on May 23, 2012 | 2:34 PM


We need a Karlos Dansby again as middle linebacker. We need a Kurt Crain.

Jake sounds like he is cut from the same cloth.

War Eagle!!

“Negative? Hell’s bells. I can out drink anyone in the kool-aide department. But I also like to be realistic. Don’t you?”

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