His father, Michael, was a defensive end at Michigan, and his brother, Alex, was a tight end at USC who played for two NFL teams.
While buddies played in Orange County (Calif.) youth leagues, Holmes, 6-4, 305, was told he was too big through his middle school years. To occupy his time, Holmes (who weighed nearly 12 pounds at birth) focused on playing basketball and the cello.
Holmes hit his playing stride at Mater Dei High, a football powerhouse, teaming with quarterback Matt Barkley as the two began a connection that led to Southern Cal and the NFL.
Holmes blocked for Barkley with the Trojans, starting 37-of-40 career games at center and right guard. While Barkley was taken by Philadelphia with the first pick of the fourth round, Holmes was taken by the Colts 23 spots later.
“I was so, so unbelievably excited and honored to be able to join the organization,” said Holmes. “I was fortunate enough to visit out there with the team. It’s just a dream come true.
“Andrew (Luck) will be the first guy that I block for besides Matt. I’m excited to do that. He’s such a great player. He proved himself in the NFL last year. We had some battles with him in college. I’m excited to be on his team now.”
Holmes opened 24 games at center and 13 at right guard, and he feels he is athletic enough to be viable at all three interior positions on the Indianapolis line.
“I think I can definitely play multiple positions. I can play all the interior three spots,” said Holmes.
Holmes, whose sister is married to seven-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu, was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy this past year, a season when he earned multiple All-Pac-12 honors.
Starting his final two years at center, Holmes blocked as Barkley tossed 37 touchdowns as a junior while suffering only eight sacks. In two years with Holmes calling blocking assignments, USC endured but 25 sacks in 24 outings.
For his career, Holmes was credited with 227 knockdown/key blocks and had 27 touchdown-resulting blocks.
Holmes fought through a high ankle sprain suffered early last year and felt the Colts knew the type of performer he was. His selection came after Indianapolis took Illinois guard
Holmes will follow the NFL path of his brother. It was one not taken by his father, who eschewed the sport to go into business with the Saudi Royal Family.
“He was presented with a business opportunity that he decided to go with that he’s still doing to this day,” said Holmes. “He’s a business manager. He kind of handles day-to-day activities. He has to travel a lot with them. It’s a different job for sure, but it’s gone well.”
In addition to his youthful response of playing the cello, Holmes has rounded himself beyond the field with a degree in classics. He, Alex and his sister, Theodora, were introduced to classical literature by their mother, Katina.
“My mom has always stressed academics growing up,” said Holmes. “She was a classicist when she went to school. She kind of instilled that work ethic in us. I think that really helped us in athletics as well, my brother and I at least.
“It helped us become better students of the game and as well as recognize that you can’t just focus entirely, at least in college, on one thing. And two, just be the best person you can be. You have to develop all aspects of yourself.”