Signing with the Bills this past offseason after four years out in Oakland brought Andre Holmes closer to his alma mater, Michigan's Hillsdale College.
Holmes was a three-time all-conference player and 2010 All-American for the Division II school in the hills of southern Michigan. He was able to attend Hillsdale’s season opener at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and after catching up with coach Keith Otterbein and equipment manager Pat Hornak, Holmes decided to make a donation that allowed Hillsdale to purchase new gray uniforms for the football team.
“The opportunity presented itself and I wanted to help out,” Holmes said. “I love my college and when I played, we only had two different jerseys, blue and white.”
Holmes was also inspired by his former teammate and Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, who donated to help Hillsdale build a weight room in 2014.
“That’s how the school is,” Holmes said. “They don’t take government funding, so all the money they get is from people who went to school there or believe in what the school stands for. There’s a lot of people doing that at Hillsdale.”
The Chargers debuted the monochrome jerseys and pants for their Oct. 14 game, which was shown on ESPN. They will wear them again today in the home finale.
“They look real nice,” Holmes said.
The Hillsdale players were given the choice last spring between getting new uniforms or white helmets. They chose the helmets.
Hornak surprised the players at the final practice before their ESPN game by presenting the dark gray jerseys.
“I put on one underneath my jacket and did the reveal at the end of practice,” Hornak said. “I unzipped my jacket and they went crazy. They had no idea.”
Holmes went undrafted out of Hillsdale after setting school records with 219 receptions for 3,092 yards. He also holds the single-season records for receptions (104) and receiving yards (1,368) and the single-game record for receptions (16) set in his final game.
Hornak has followed Holmes’ NFL career closely.
“I was around here and working with him through the process of NFL scouts coming in, and it was a cool thing,” Hornak said. “I saw he caught a touchdown for the Bills against the Raiders. I’m glad he’s kicking butt and I’m happy for him. He definitely deserves what he’s gotten.”
Holmes has been keeping an eye on the Chargers’ junior wide receiver Trey Brock, who entered today’s game with 2,853 career receiving yards and 1,048 yards on the season, with two games remaining.
“My records are going to get broken,” Holmes said. “He’s an outstanding receiver. It was nice to finally get to see him play in person.”
Story topics: Andre Holmes