Pelham’s Holland is a Jake of all trades

Growing up as an Alabama Crimson Tide fan, Pelham senior Jake Holland never imagined that he would one day suit up for the cross-state rival Auburn Tigers.

But that day became a reality in April when Holland became the first defensive commitment for first-year head coach Gene Chizik.

“I really fell in love with the coaches and the environment. It felt right,” Holland said. “Everything fit for me.”

By committing in April, Holland was able to concentrate solely on football and academics this fall, both of which he dominated.

That decision paid off as Holland finished the season with an astounding 153 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, seven pass break-ups, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, four interceptions and two sacks to earn the Shelby County Reporter Player of the Year honor.

“I felt a lot more comfortable out there with the experience,” said Holland, who started for three years. “I had fun out there. I really had nothing to lose with already being committed to Auburn.”

Holland is the first pure defensive player to earn the Reporter’s Player of the Year honor.

“It means a lot,” Holland said. “It’s an honor.”

Despite the Panthers finishing the season 3-8, Holland led Pelham into the Class 6A playoffs, while also missing the regular-season finale due to an injury.

The highlight of his season came in week 4 when the Panthers outlasted Vestavia Hills in triple overtime to hand the Rebels their only Class 6A, Region 6 loss of the season.

Holland had 24 tackles in the thrilling victory, including 15 solo and nine assists with four tackles for a loss.

For his career, Holland finished with 351 tackles in 31 games played.

In addition to the Reporter honor, Holland was also recently named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Class 6A team and was selected for the Under Armour All-American game Jan. 2 in Orlando.

The Under Armour game will be televised live on ESPN.

Pelham High School coach Brett Burnett said Holland played an instrumental role in the Panthers’ plans on defense and special teams during the 2009 season.

“Jake was a big part of our team,” Burnett said. “He made a lot of plays for us on defense and special teams. He had a very productive senior season.”

Burnett also coached Jake’s older brother Wes, a former Pelham standout at running back who now plays at the University of North Alabama.

Burnett said he sees a lot of similarity in the two brothers, but adds that Jake has the bigger build.

“Wes was a little more vocal,” Burnett said. “Jake is the kind of kid that leads by example.”

Both of them are just super young men. They’ve both achieved at a high level.”

Burnett said he was proud to see Holland honored for his effort during his senior season.

“I’m really excited for Jake,” Burnett said. “He had a great year.”

2009 Shelby County Reporter All-County football team

QB: Brandon Wells, Calera, Jr.

RB: Juwan Rogers, Vincent, Sr.

RB: LaDarius King, Cornerstone, Sr.

WR: Brandon Lilly, Montevallo, Sr.

WR: Jeremy Hyde, Calera, So.

TE: Davis Dudchock, Oak Mountain, Sr.

OL: D’Antwone King, Calera, Sr.

OL: Codey Foster, Shelby County, Sr.

OL: David Jones Spain Park, Sr.

OL: Bud Bliss Coosa Valley, Sr.

OL: Collin Spradley Vincent Sr.

ATH: Ryan Williams, Pelham, Sr.

DL: Nigel Terrell, Pelham, Sr.

DL: Jeremiah Jackson, Spain Park, Sr.

DL: Zeke Walters, Briarwood Chr., Sr.

LB: Derek Slaughter, Pelham, Jr.

LB: Jake Holland, Pelham, Sr.

LB: Alex Payne, Spain Park, Jr.

LB: Justin Shade, Briarwood Chr., Sr.

DB: Kevin Callender, Montevallo, Sr.

DB: Brett Frizzell, Vincent, Sr.

DB: Kevin McNorton, Shelby County, Sr.

DB/P: Aaron Haag, Spain Park, Sr.

K: Justin Lumpkin, Spain Park, Sr.

Honorable mention:

OAK MOUNTAIN: Ross Ware, Rico Dunn, Whit Whitfield; PELHAM: Tripp Martin, Dominique Harris, Hudson Pitts, Reed Bright; SPAIN PARK: DaRon Smith, Graham Craig, Wilson Robinson, Chris Humes, Daniel Watkins; THOMPSON: Deshaunta Bivens, Monterious Drake, Nick Parten; BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN: Paul Barber, Cooper Harrington, Phillip Ketcham, Connor Hodges; CHELSEA: Jake Ganus, Alex Levinson, John Calhoun; SHELBY COUNTY: Tae Lewis, Braten Dill, Chad King, Denzel Williams; CALERA: Eugene Rodgers, Travis Green, Ronnie Clark; MONTEVALLO: Garrius Chappell, Tony Kent, Brett Grey; VINCENT: Ben McKinney, Michael Kelley; KINGWOOD CHRISTIAN: Tyrone Pope, Peyton Sumerall; CORNERSTONE CHRISTIAN: Colton Wingard, J.V. McKinney, Patrick Shaw, Trey Benson; COOSA VALLEY ACADEMY: John Bullen, Ricky Ellison; HOPE CHRISTIAN: Zac Hughes, Jacob Medders, Luke Mahan, Caleb Rettig; EVANGEL CHRISTIAN: Hunter Burridge, Jakan Sylestine, Josh Flanders.