Jordan Holland’s story is one of a true underdog and is still being written. Holland took the typical path of an underrated college football athlete. Receiving no scholarships from the larger schools, he started off his career at Texas A&M Kingsville where he wowed coaches his Freshman year before he tore his hamstring. Not only did he have to sit out the year, but the coaches that brought Holland in, left Kingsville after that season. This left Holland with a difficult choice to make, either stay and be apart of a new coaching system that did not have him in their plans, or sit out yet another season and transfer. The urge to play Division 1 football was the ultimate factor and a decision was made. Holland transferred to Prairie View A&M.
Due to the transfer rules, Holland had to sit out what would have been his sophomore year. His first taste of Prairie View A&M football was as an assistant where he would wake up at 4am and help in the gym with coach Pete Longoria. Bad news struck again and he was informed that due to more transfer eligibility rules, he was not even allowed to be around the team until after the season. “I thought, man what did I get myself into. I’m an all out regular student and I was embarrassed about it when people asked me where I was playing at,” said Holland. He knew he wanted to play football and he was stuck not being able to.
Luckily, four friends from his high school came to PVAMU to help keep him motivated and they worked out everyday religiously to prepare for his try out with the football team in the spring. It was a hard process for Holland to endure and thoughts started to creep in his head about quitting the game completely, quitting school, and trying to work for his Grandmother’s bail bonds business full time. “I ended up sticking with it because I never forgot that moment when my mother told me I wouldn’t get to play D1 ball, he said” He was grateful he did stick with the game, because after all that hard work, he ended up making the team and could start playing spring ball.
Being away from the game for two whole seasons, he had some rust to shake off. “I was playing Safety and looked very rusty and just couldn’t find myself. I had a great coach, but a very steep learning curve,” he said. Noticing Holland was behind the ball at Safety, his coach suggested playing corner during a team run. Holland laughed it off and a couple laps later, he thought this was the best decision he has ever made. He was a very physical defender and it was hard for Wide Receivers to get off the line with him guarding them. The team would watch film and the Defensive Backs coach would tell the rest of the Cornerbacks that he wanted them to be more physical like Holland. Indeed a good decision, he impressed by being a playmaker and became the starter by the end of Spring ball.
Entering the first game of Holland’s Junior season, he ended up not getting the start and didn’t even get to play a single down in the game. The following week everything changed for Holland. He was told that he would get his first start at corner. He almost broke down and cried, as this was that moment he thought of all the people in his life who told him he could never play at this level. Holland ended up leading the SWAC in passes defended and at the end of the season, he was nominated for PVAMU’s Male athlete of the year. “I remember playing so good against Grambling State that after the game, current Arizona Cardinal’s Wide Receiver, Chad Williams, asked me how many more years would we have left to play each other,” he said. This was the moment Holland knew he could play at the next level.
Holland was at an all time high in his football career coming off a brilliant season before tragedy struck, yet again. First, there was a coaching change and due to this, Holland was not awarded a scholarship going into his Senior year. Second, he switched majors that led to him being one credit hour short of being eligible. Holland’s Senior year and collegiate career was over with a blink of an eye. “I was never a problem guy. It seemed to be one thing, after another, after another,” he said. Instead of having his parents pay for another year at PVAMU, he made the decision to leave and continue his career elsewhere.
Due to not playing his senior season, attending a pro day, or any type of combine, Indoor Football was his only shot at the professional level at that point. He received a camp invite for the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League. Not knowing anyone in Ohio, he was stuck living on one of the coach’s couches during camp. He made a splash and impressed, but ultimately the Gladiators were too stacked with veterans that Holland did not get signed to the active roster. “It was hard, I used to lie to people all the time that asked me what I was doing. I was getting ready to go back home and work in the church full time,” he said. Then the Billings Wolves of the Indoor Football League contacted him. Even though he had to live on the floor due to housing reasons, received little to nothing as a game paycheck, was away from all family and friends, and was very much out of his element, it was all about the opportunity to continue playing at a high level. “I remember I was so grateful that I cried on our bus ride to Iowa to face the Cedar Rapids Titans. I couldn’t believe I had just been on a coach’s coach sleeping in Ohio to waking up to amazing views of Wyoming,” he said.
After the season ended, he moved back in with his parents. His bank account had been closed due to not being able to save any money playing Indoor ball and was embarrassed, as he had nothing to his name. He was forced to enter the working field since there were no opportunities in football at the time. He was offered a job working in the equipment department with the Cleveland Browns. “All I would hear is ‘Dang this is the best your father (Johnny Holland, 49ers Linebackers Coach) could do?’ I was washing jockstraps and underwear for guys my age, guys that I knew I should of been playing with or against.” he said. Working in the locker room at least had its perks because he got to be around the team. He got the chance to go up against one of the Brown’s Wide Receivers in a 1 on 1 drill, where he shut him down after not playing in months. In this moment, he once again knew he wanted to do something bigger, but he didn’t and still doesn’t know how.
Holland is at the point in his career where he just needs the one opportunity to prove he belongs playing high level football. Growing up, his father coached with the Packers back when they were a Super Bowl team. He told Holland that he was naturally born to play football and be a Cornerback because even on a stacked team with Reggie White, Brett Favre, and other legends like Desmond Howard, Holland’s favorite player was Craig Newsome, a Cornerback with a crazy story of how he made it to the NFL. “He said I would always tell people I wanted to be him, play like him, and that he was my favorite player.” he said. Newsome instilled a passion into Holland, a passion of playing Cornerback, which still exists today, as Holland is seeking the opportunity he ultimately deserves.