Mission Hills junior cornerback Dechaun Holiday has received five scholarship offers, including one from San Diego State, since intercepting three passes in a win over Oceanside last month.
Eyeballing Oceanside quarterback Matt Romero, Dechaun Holiday halted his backpedal, tapering the distance between him and Pirates receiver Mikah Holder straddling the 35-yard line.
The 6-foot-3 Mission Hills cornerback trusted his instincts.
“I watched extensive film on (Mikah) before the game,” Holiday said. “I studied his habits and tendencies on the field.”
As expected, the Pirates quarterback — scanning the field for options following a broken play — heaved the football toward Holder, a San Diego State commit.
Holiday snatched the football midair and dusted the trailing Pirates for a 64-yard pick-six, one of three interceptions in the Grizzlies’ 30-6 upset victory over then San Diego Section No. 1 Oceanside.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind since then,” said Holiday, an
ESPN.com four-star defensive back who tries to mirror Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
The Sept. 27 matchup between Mission Hills and Oceanside diverted many a university football recruiting coordinator to San Marcos.
Interest has increased in Holiday, the No. 11 cornerback prospect in the ESPN junior 300 rankings who has accumulated five scholarship offers since then.
“The timing was really perfect,”
Rivals.com West recruiting analyst Adam Gorney said via email.
“(Holiday) had a big game against Oceanside and then he released his midseason highlight tape. Coaches surely took notice or heard of his performance against Holder and others and then they watched a collection of good plays from early in his junior season.”
It ended a drought for Holiday, who up to that point had plenty of interest but zero offers.
“Especially for juniors, coaches would prefer to see him against high-caliber competition. When players are competing against inferior opponents it’s just so hard to gauge how that would translate,” Gorney said.
“That’s usually why recruits from small towns or not-as-prestigious high schools get offered later, because coaches want to see them in camp settings or against elite competition.”
During the spring, Holiday showcased his abilities in the
Rivals.com Camp Series in Los Angeles, where West recruiting analyst Rob Cassidy described him as moving “as well as any underclassman during drills” and showing “agility as well as certain smoothness.”
In addition, Cassidy listed Holiday as No. 2 on his Top Underclassmen list, adding: “He continued to flash impressive footwork during one-on-ones, as he broke up a number of passes on deep routes.”
However, none of Mission Hills’ early-season opponents was deemed “elite” competition, corroborated by three Grizzlies defensive shutouts through four weeks.
Then the Pirates visited. And Holiday was matched one-on-one against Holder.
Seven days later, the Aztecs extended Holiday his first scholarship offer.
“A ‘signature’ performance can be monumental in someone’s recruitment,” Gorney said.
San Jose State, Washington, Utah and Nebraska also have issued scholarship offers.
“The snowball effect is huge,” Gorney said. “But first, schools have to believe that prospect is an outstanding player. There are so many examples of kids who pick up one or two strong offers and then everyone else piles in. Everyone wants to have a shot and getting early offers out is the way to do it now.”
Reportedly, the “entire Pac-12” could enter the Holiday sweepstakes as well as Notre Dame, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan, Ole Miss and Florida State.
Each program mailed letters and/or engaged in some form of communication with Holiday via phone or social networks.
“Hearing from each team has been a true blessing,” Holiday said.
While incapable of controlling the remainder of Mission Hills’ favorable schedule, Holiday said things like consistent play, continued maturation on the field, passion and textbook coverage remain focal points moving forward.
“Once those first few offers come in,” Gorney said. “(Dechaun) should expect many more.”