Pelham’s Holland commits to Auburn

Pelham linebacker Jake Holland grew up an Alabama fan, but as of Friday, he’s proud to be an Auburn Tiger. Holland called head coach Gene Chizik Friday to say he’s off the recruiting block and will sign with Auburn University in February. He is the first defensive commitment for Auburn’s 2010 class.

“Being the first commitment for Coach Chizik is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s an honor,” said Holland, a 6-foot-1, 228-pound linebacker.

Holland visited Auburn’s Junior Days in early March and returned to campus Thursday to watch practice. That’s when Chizik and Auburn sealed the deal.

“Before Thursday, they were definitely the top of the list, but I still had my mind open toward other people,” Holland said. “Thursday, I went down there and watched them practice, and I really fell in love with the place. The guys are really honest, straightforward people. Everything there is kind of like home. Everyone is heartfelt and everybody loves Auburn down there, and it’s a great place to go.”

Holland said he is glad the weight of the decision is off him as he prepares for spring practice with the Pelham Panthers and his senior season.

“I thought it would be good to go ahead and get it over with so I can get it off my mind and focus on being the best player on defense in Alabama,” Holland said. “I really feel like I can help them and help them recruit great players from the state,”

Holland recorded 129 tackles for the Panthers in 2008 and received heavy attention through his junior season and immediate offseason, collecting offers from UCLA, Colorado, Vanderbilt, Duke, Stanford, Kansas State, UAB, South Alabama and Southern Mississippi. UAB was the first to offer Holland in September 2008, followed by Duke in October. The most recent was Southern Mississippi.

Holland participated in the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas in January and Junior Days at various schools in the Southeast, hitting

He was timed at a 4.57 40-yard dash on grass at a timing day at Pelham in the winter.