As one of eight quarterbacks selected in the first round, Ben Holmes became a New Jersey General in the 2022 reboot of the USFL. But unlike some of his counterparts, Holmes took an unconventional route to get to this stage.
In the USFL’s revival here in 2022, Ben Holmes became a member of the league as the New Jersey Generals drafted him fourth overall on Feb. 22. The 6-foot signal-caller was one of the top four quarterbacks selected in the QB-only first round of the draft, just after former NFL reserves Jordan Ta’amu (Houston Gamblers) and Shea Patterson (Michigan Panthers), as well as former Division III standout Bryan Scott (Philadelphia Stars).
Other QBs selected in the first round include former NFL backups Kyle Lauletta (Pittsburgh Maulers), Kyle Sloter (New Orleans Breakers), Clayton Thorson (Houston Gamblers), and Alex McGough (Birmingham Stallions).
Similar to Scott, Ben Holmes is coming in from a different route, hailing from the Division II ranks at Tarleton State (Texas). The Western New York native is one of the most accomplished players in program history, as he compiled a 23-2 record over two years as a starter and 262.3 passing yards per game — all-time marks in Texans history. A dual-threat player under center, Holmes accounted for 5,997 yards of total offense with 560 rushing yards (501 during the 2018 season).
“[It’s] just another opportunity to play the game I love. Not too many people get to play even after high school,” Holmes shared in a text exchange. “So to have a chance like this, it’s just amazing.”
Prior to his tenure at Tarleton, Holmes also played for Nassau Community College (New York) and a prep season Southeast Prep Postgraduate Football Academy in Texas after playing for New York State-powerhouse Orchard Park in high school.
Holmes last played for the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League in 2021, as well as the Sea Lions in The Spring League. Despite a path with many twists and turns, Holmes is assured of this opportunity due to his preparation.
“So I never stopped training, I just stayed in the silence, and dark, and continued to grind,” Holmes said. “No one saw, no one asked. I prayed for an opportunity, and I knew I’d be ready.”
The Generals will be led by head coach Mike Riley, who has run several offenses throughout the NFL, CFL, college football, and more. He’s worked with the likes of quarterbacks including Drew Brees, Doug Flutie, Derek Anderson, Matt Moore, Sean Mannion, Sean Canfield, and Rob Johnson.
“I’ve got to spend a lot of time with Coach Riley these past few days, it’s going to be a very exciting offense,” Holmes said. “He has so much knowledge for the game and the position that I’m just gonna try and be a big sponge.”
New Jersey will have an offense with a skill group that includes former NFL, Power 5 FBS players, and beyond. That unit will feature wideouts J’Mon Moore (Green Bay Packers/Missouri), Kavontae Turpin (TCU), Darrius Shepherd (Packers/3-time FCS champion with North Dakota State), and Christopher Platt Jr. (Baylor), as well asTEs Braedon Bowman (New York Jets/South Alabama) and former Arena Football League star Nick Truesdell.
The backfield will feature former NFL RB Trey Williams and former Ohio State back and Super Bowl champion Mike Weber Jr. Up front, the Generals will have former NFL reserves Garrett McGhin (Carolina Panthers) Calvin Ashley (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and Terry Poole (Seattle Seahawks) in the trenches.
Ben Holmes will also be joined in the QB room by former ‘Last Chance U’ star De’Andre Johnson, who last played for Texas Southern in 2019.
“Our coaching staff did a really good job with picking the right pieces,” Holmes said.
“I’ve reached out to most of the team, and especially the wide receivers and linemen. There is a lot of experience stretched throughout that group, and my job is to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s going to be fun playing with this talented group of men.”
The Generals will report for training camp on March 22 and will play their first game on April 16 in Alabama to take on the Birmingham Stallions.
The USFL is being supported by heavy hitters in the sports media world, specifically Fox Sports and NBC Sports. Before things kick off in April, though, the league will have a hurdle to clear, as several of the original USFL owners look to block the return of the USFL after a 37-year hiatus.