College football: Holcombe lives out a dream by signing with Alabama
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Feb 08, 2014 | 2727 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSCALOOSA -- Signing the paperwork was just a formality for Keith Holcombe.

Holcombe, who signed with Alabama on Wednesday, has wanted to play for the Crimson Tide since he was 6.

His father, Danny Holcombe, played offensive center and guard under Paul “Bear” Bryant and lettered during 1980-1982. So the brief signing ceremony in Hillcrest High’s auditorium was a culmination of years of following his dream school.

“Growing up in Tuscaloosa, watching Alabama my entire life and having my dad play there, it’s always been a dream of mine,” said Holcombe, whose older brother Max is a three-year starter at center for Jacksonville State.

“I never thought I would be able to be apart of it, but once the opportunity came, I jumped on it. It’s a dream come true.”

After an 11-day commitment to Mississippi State this summer, Holcombe received an offer from Alabama and immediately flipped to the Tide.

And Holcombe’s father could not have been prouder.

“Me and his mother are ecstatic,” Danny Holcombe said. “Just for him to have an opportunity to be able to go to the university, a school he’s followed. Not all kids have that opportunity. Very few kids even get to play college football so it’s a great honor to be apart of.”

Holcombe, a four-star prospect, is listed as an outside linebacker and an athlete. He ranks as the No. 27 athlete and the No. 11 prospect in Alabama, according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Holcombe may need to add some weight to play linebacker in the SEC. He has put on some weight throughout the year, but said he still wants to add at least 10 more pounds. But if he does remain near or at his current weight, he also has the skills to play safety.

“They’re talking to me about Sam and middle linebacker,” Holcombe said of Alabama’s coaching staff. “There’s talk that as long as my speeds up, I’ll be on multiple special teams.”

Holcombe is considered a sure tackler and has a nose for the football. During his senior season, Holcombe tallied 128 tackles, 11 tackles for loss with two sacks and an interception. He earned an invitation to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.

JC Shurburtt, the 247Sports national recruiting director, said Holcombe could be one of the “sleeper” prospects from this class. While some believe Holcombe received an offer only because he’s an Alabama legacy, Shurburtt said that isn’t the case.

“He has a great frame, and guys that can run and hit at linebacker, those guys usually pan out because they’re physical enough to get out there and get after it and they have the speed to go out there and impose their physicality on ball carriers,” Shurburtt said.

Shurburtt also said that had Holcombe stuck with his pledge to Mississippi State, he would have been one of the best players in their class, but is being overshadowed among the talent Alabama brought in.

“Nobody’s going to talk about because he’s a local kid, and you expect Alabama to get him,” Shurburtt said. “There was no drama in his recruitment other than the brief commitment to Mississippi State before flipping to Alabama. But just looking at him and taking the film into account, he’s got a chance to be a really good player.”

Kipp Adams, 247Sports' national recruiting analyst, also raved about Holcombe’s versatility.

“He has the ability to be a difference maker at tight end or an extremely rangy linebacker,” Adams said. “He does not get enough credit for how much ground he can cover sideline-to-sideline.”

Holcombe is playing baseball for Hillcrest and plans to join the Tide shortly after graduation.
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