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Giants’ rookie Darnay Holmes on playing at the pro level: “I’m ready to rock.”

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The rookie cornerback out of UCLA is ready to transition to the NFL

NFL Combine - Day 6 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes anticipated facing new challenges as he prepared for his first NFL season but scheduling virtual meetings from across the country in Pasadena, Calif. was not one of them.

Holmes joined Madelyn Burke on the Giants Huddle podcast recently and explained that he wakes up around 6 a.m. to be ready for a 7 a.m. Giants meeting that takes place on the east coast.

Yet, Holmes is able to find the positives in his current situation.

“I’m able to grasp the knowledge of people who have been in the league a long time, who have been in this game and this type of system,” Holmes said. “That’s definitely a blessing being able to hear different inputs and different tactics on how to grasp certain plays, so that’s been going good.”

Holmes has also passed the time at home by volunteering at the Pasadena Giants clinic, where he enjoys having the chance to mentor young kids.

“That’s definitely an important endeavor on my end just because the younger generation is the future leaders of the world,” Holmes said. “My main goal is to prepare these kids to break barriers in life and enjoy the game they love.”

Holmes was a three-year starter at UCLA where he played 35 career games with 33 starts. He recorded 111 tackles, two forced fumbles, 28 pass breakups and eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The former Bruin was also a two-time All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection in his last two seasons. Holmes became the first pair of true freshmen defenders to start a season opener in UCLA history in 2017 alongside defensive lineman Jaelan Phillips.

The Giants selected Holmes in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the 110th pick overall. New York sees him as a potential fit for the nickel cornerback spot and a contributor on special teams.

“Darnay is definitely a guy that jumps out at you,” said head coach Joe Judge. “He’s got good speed, he’s got real good short area quickness. He’s contributed on the defensive side of the ball, he’s had impact in the kicking game. He plays with a good edge, shows some nasty. You can see he definitely plays bigger than his size. He’s a guy that jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. His tape backed up what we saw down there. I’m really happy we were able to add him.”

While at home during the offseason, Holmes has been working on honing his versatility at the NFL level.

“I’m really just sharpening my mind,” Holmes explained. “Everyone is at the same skill set and playing field so now it’s like ‘How am I going to separate myself?’ I’m constantly placing people in my corner who have been in this realm and I’m constantly educating myself about myself and educating myself about this game so once I step foot on that field, I’m ready to rock. I have that unwavering faith and belief in myself.”

While at UCLA, Holmes had proven success with the special teams unit as well. He returned 38 kickoffs in his career for a average of 23.1 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown vs. Stanford in 2018.

“I see myself playing a role in whatever they want me to play a role in,” Holmes said. “I’m ready to get back there and maximize my role and catch a few balls. But if not, I’m going to be the one who is encouraging that punt returner to make sure we have complimentary football going on.”