Thursday, June 04, 2015

UConn recruit Holman has quite the story

In the days and weeks leading up to national signing day there was just one story I was clamoring to write and it certainly wasn't about the Civic Conflict trophy which has received an absurd amount of media coverage.

When Zordan Holman committed to UConn it was mentioned rather frequently that he was an age group world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. However, that was only a part of Holman's story. The more research I did on him the more compelling his story was. His father served as a general in the Croatian army and became a prisoner of war for a year. I've seen mentions of this part of his background but not more in depth coverage of his family's amazing odyssey.

As luck would have it I have family living about an hour from Portland, Maine where the Holman family has resided since 1999. I was able to sit down with Zordan on Tuesday morning and the story I wrote on him will be appearing on the Register's site in the next day or two. Since it was impossible to keep his story to a reasonable length, the print version probably won't be appearing until next week.

I met Zordan the morning after his high school graduation. The Cheverus High School graduation ceremony is a little different because the boys were tuxedos and the girls are dressed in evening gowns.

He said he said been doing  a daily countdown until he arrives at UConn on June 21.

"I am actually counting down the days and you realize right after graduation that it is right around the corner. It is right there, it is a hop, skip and a jump. It is going to be a truly new experience, it is going to be a challenge and I can't wait."

Shortly after Bob Diaco was hired and his staff was put together they began the pursuit of the 6-foot-6 Holman.

"They started recruiting me in my junior year, I went down to the school and met Coach Diaco," Holman said. "I was recruited by Coach Cummings and they are my types of guys. There is a sense of community, a sense of family and it is more than just football. Obviously they are there to win games but they care you as a whole person and I fell in love with that. Obviously football is a large part of that but the education I can get after the schooling there it is invaluable.

"I always had the dream of playing Division I football and maybe one day playing in the NFL since I was a little kid. For a kid from Maine getting a Division I scholarship doesn't happen often. It call came to fruition a few days after I visited in my junior year and Coach Diaco offered me a scholarship over the phone. It was a pretty great feeling knowing all the hard work, all the time I spent in the class room and in the weight room. There are no absolutely in life but one thing that became aware to me that if you work hard it will pay off."

Holman joins Ian Campbell and Chris Lee as incoming freshmen projecting to play tight end. Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom are heading into their sophomore seasons so there is plenty of youth at the tight end position.

"Competition is a great thing," Holman said. "Six or seven guys competing for one position, it is good for the program and helps establish a sense of a winning culture there and that is a big thing of what Coach Diaco and the coaches are trying to do there and I am happy to be a part of it.

"Obviously UConn has had success with the football program in the past, (playing in) the Fiesta Bowl and they have won a few bowl games. The university has done all the right things, hired a great coach and he will prove that over time. but it is going to take some time, Rome wasn't built in a day."

I'm going to hold off of posting the stuff from his mixed martial arts background or what he had to say about his father's time in the military and decision to move the family to the United States until the story runs on the site. But here is a little bit of what he had to say on the subject.

"It was me, my two sisters, my parents. Could you imagine you are 30-35 years old, you don't know the language, you are going to take three small kids over, you don't have a dollar to your name. We talk about just doing the right thing, mental toughness, what the best thing about being a man and that sums it to be me right there.

"It puts things into perspective, it is a very eye opening, very humbling experience. I could be over there right now fighting for my life or I could going to school from 8-2. It's an easy choice if you ask me. I've been blessed with an opportunity that a lot of kids don't have and I am looking forward in 19 days to taking advantage of it. It is a new challenge, a new page and I am ready."



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