So much of the spotlight is on the top rookies, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal and Wan’Dale Robinson, and of course so much of it is on Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones as they begin the battle to remain Giants … but Darnay Holmes has been the unexpected star of training camp.
“I go on the field with a mentality of, ‘You gotta deal with me,’” Holmes told The Post. “That’s just the approach you gotta take in life in general. Being passive in this day and age isn’t the best thing, unless it’s with a woman. But outside of that, just being in tune with yourself, understanding that when things go south, it don’t define you. So just having more of a state of mind of progression and not stagnant.”
The progression has manifested itself in the first week of practice in three interceptions, including a Pick Six, and a forced fumble from Saquon Barkley — which makes you believe that the best is yet to come for Holmes, either at his current slot corner spot or perhaps even on the outside if Aaron Robinson doesn’t cut it.
“I would say what drove me as a young kid was the fear of not being who I know who I could be,” Holmes said. “And what drives me now is still that.”
Holmes has two interceptions in nine career starts over two injury-marred seasons that included a rib fracture that ended his 2021. That was then. This is now.
“Confidence is a thing that I feel like you gotta work on, and that comes from preparation, it comes from a spiritual side and it comes from a visual side, visualize yourself being successful, manifesting that success,” Holmes said. “Really just understanding that you can’t allow your confidence to come from your results, ’cause then you’re gonna be a roller coaster. So just staying even-keeled and knowing that my confidence comes from the Man Above and it comes from the process that I lock into.”
Holmes said Barkley taught him to visualize last season.
What did he learn?
“Just going through different play calls that you know was on the ready list, and visualizing different formations that could come with it or visualize your matchup and when things go your way, how you go about it when things don’t go your way, how you respond, so when that stuff does come, it’s not just rattling you, you’ve been there before.”
Dbacks Academy Sports Performance life coach Brian Walker has mentored Holmes since before the 2020 NFL Draft and witnessed his growth over the offseason at Mackay Park in Englewood, NJ
“I noticed he’s gotten quicker,” Walker told The Post. “Biggest thing is he’s healthy. He’s adjusted to the NFL lifestyle. He’s a California guy, so he’s adjusted to the East Coast. He’s always been mature, but I think for him he sees that there’s an opportunity with [CB James] Bradberry going to another team [the Eagles] — inside, outside — he’s just motivated to become better as a player.”
Holmes is 5-foot-10, 190 pounds and fearless.
“Physically he’s gotten a lot leaner,” Walker said. “He looks like he’s just defined and cut. He’s just preparing to play any position that they want him.”
Holmes’ scouting report on Holmes:
“He’s physical. Quick, I would say. Good instincts, ball skills and he could be a guy who could go cover any size if it has to be done.”
How high is up for Darnay Holmes?
“I personally view him as a young man who could be a Pro Bowler,” Walker said. “I always said he reminds me of a guy like Chris Harris, who’s a Pro Bowler. He reminds me also of DeAngelo Hall with that size. Even though they think Darnay’s small, he’s 5-10, 190, so he’s an inch shorter than [Darrelle] Check, if that.”
Holmes was a star running back and receiver and five-star recruit at Calabasas HS “That’s why I like getting my hands on the ball, able to showcase a few things,” he said, and smiled.
He has stolen the show.
“I’ve seen growth in him as a person and that displays in his game,” CB Adoree’ Jackson said. “I’ve known him since I was 17, 16, and I’m about to be 27. It’s like 10 years of knowing him and getting to see him at the highest level being able to play and compete, it’s just awesome to see .”
Starnay raves about head coach Brian Daboll: “He allows us to run the show, but he’s very diligent on what he expects of us.”
And he raves about defensive coordinator Wink Martindale: “He’s a down-to-earth guy. He’s a guy who wants everybody to win. He cares for all of our success, which is hard to find in this world.”