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Culpeper's Joseph Holland commits to Virginia

Culpeper's Joseph Holland commits to Virginia

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Joseph Holland

Culpeper’s Joseph Holland pursues a Phoebus ball carrier during the 2018 Class 3 state semifinals at Hampton University. Holland accepted a preferred walk-on offer from the University of Virginia on Monday.

When the Virginia High School League decided to postpone football and all other fall sports to next February due to COVID-19, it left Joseph Holland with a little too much time on his hands.

Sure, the Culpeper High School senior has schoolwork to do. He also has a part-time job waiting tables at the Flavor on Main restaurant and bar in downtown Culpeper.

There’s also the multiple workouts each week that Blue Devils head coach James Ford has been conducting to keep Holland and his teammates ready for the kickoff they all hope is coming in a few short months.

Still, there have been moments where Holland has wondered if this pandemic would rob him of an opportunity to play college football—a very real fear that many uncommitted seniors across the state are trying to tackle.

Holland’s fears were alleviated in a major way when Virginia, his dream school, extended him a preferred walk-on offer Sunday afternoon. He wasted little time grabbing the brass ring, announcing that he’d accepted the offer via his Twitter account Monday evening.

Holland chose the Cavaliers over ACC rival Duke, Ivy League institutions Dartmouth and Columbia, and several Division II and Division III schools.

“It’s huge that I’m getting a chance to play at UVA,” Holland said by phone late Monday night. “It’s definitely a point of validation for all the physical and academic work I’ve put in.”

Austin Pickett, Culpeper’s recruiting coordinator, wasn’t surprised that the Power Five school less than an hour south of Culpeper took an interest in Holland.

“Joseph has worked his tail off since the day that I met him,” Pickett said. “His incredible work ethic has led to a lot of doors being opened for him throughout his recruitment. That work ethic, combined with{span} his leadership abilities and his intelligence, will all translate to the next level and will lead him to success at UVA.”

Primarily an outside linebacker/edge rusher for the Blue Devils over the past two years, the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Holland tallied 71 tackles (four for loss), two forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions last season.

Since the conclusion of his 2019 campaign, Holland has posted solid gains, such as a 4.85 40-yard dash time and a 4.46 clocking in the shuttle run. He also recently turned in a 4.67 40 from a standing start.

In the weight room, Holland pumped out 12 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press—a personal best—in late September.

Holland is just as much a heavy hitter in the classroom as he is on the field or in the weight room though. Earlier this year, he scored in the top 2.2 percent out of 1.5 million students nationwide on the PSAT. On Oct. 16, he announced that he’d scored a near-perfect 1530 on his senior SAT.

As if his test scores aren’t impressive enough, Holland carries a 4.6 GPA.

“I’ve always put great importance on my academics,” he said. “I feel like that, my on-field intelligence and my physical frame have helped me succeed so far.”

Holland’s personal assessment may not be too far off the mark. Despite being unable to visit Virginia’s campus in person due to the coronavirus, the Cavaliers still extended him the offer.

Still, Holland hopes to visit Charlottesville very soon.

“I was able to tour the [campus] during my sophomore year and I loved it,” he said. “Hopefully we reach a point with this pandemic where things settle down and I can make a trip down there again.”

In any case, when Holland officially arrives on campus as a UVA student-athlete next summer, he’s expecting to slide into a similar position to the one he’s been occupying at Culpeper.

“Obviously the specifics for the position haven’t been ironed out yet,” he said, “but I will likely be in a outside linebacker/safety hybrid position.”

Ford believes it won’t make a difference where the Cavaliers line Holland up at because of his determination to succeed in any endeavor.

“Joe is the guy who did everything in his power to get to his dream school,” he said. “So it isn’t going to matter what they ask him to do when he gets down there.”

Regardless of whether Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall asks him to line up at linebacker, kicker or punter (he was the Blue Devils’ punter last season and has also been working as a kicker during offseason workouts), Holland kept coming back to one theme Monday night.

“I’m just grateful,” he said. “Coach Pickett does a great job as our recruiting coordinator and has been an integral part of this process, as has [UVA director of high school relations] Coach Blanda Wolfe. They’ve helped open the door for me, and now it’s up to me to continue to better myself mentally and physically as I prepare for college ball.”

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