Holmes enlists Aussie aid in bid to conquer NFL
VALENTINE Holmes has officially started his long road to the NFL, boosted by the mentoring from a fellow Australian whose son is a mainstay in the league.
Holmes completed his first week at the IMG Academy in Florida in the presence of Jason Berry - the father of Pittsburgh Steelers' Aussie punter Jordan.
Berry Sr is the head of sports science at the IMG Academy.
While he isn't directly involved with Holmes and the six other elite global athletes selected for the NFL's 2019 International Player Pathway Program, he is in the same building for guidance.
Importantly, Barry Sr has an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the difficult journey to the NFL through his son's experiences.
Jordan failed to secure an invitation to try out for an NFL team after impressing in his four years at Eastern Kentucky University.
But instead of giving up, he returned to Australia to train while working the graveyard shifts at a Melbourne McDonald's and a fruit stall at the Victorian Markets to fund a US return.
Jordan's hard work paid dividends when the Steelers offered him an opportunity in the 2015 pre-season, and the rest is history.
"That (McDonald's night shift) really played havoc with Jordan's sleep patterns and training but it was one of those things he had to do," Jason told FoxSports.com.au in 2015.
"That's Jordan. He's certainly not afraid of hard work. It's a great credit that he just kept at his dream.
"From a parent's point of view, it was good to have him home.
"It was a lot easier for us as a family group to deal with because he was here and I think looking back it was maybe a blessing in disguise."
Now Jason, is sharing his son's inspirational story with aspiring NFL players at the IMG Academy in Florida.
Jordan delivered insights to the NFL Pathway group last year, including former South Sydney NYC prop Jordan Mailata, who was drafted in 2018 by the Philadelphia Eagles as an offensive tackle.
Now a fellow former NRL player in Holmes is benefiting from the Berry family's NFL knowledge and experiences.
The ex-Cronulla, Queensland and Australian flyer has been a sponge to any new information as he trains up to nine hours a day at the IMG Academy.
Holmes's agent, Chris Orr, caught up with Jason Berry in Florida recently and was blown away with the IMG facilities.
Orr said he would urge professional sporting clubs and players to investigate visiting the complex.
For the next three months, the hi-tech academy will be Holmes' home as he attempts to do the unlikely and secure an NFL contract.
In this time, he must master the 40m sprint, offensive structures and defensive drills to have any chance of fulfilling his American football dream.
If Holmes can achieve these personal goals, it will place him in a strong position to impress NFL club scouts at a combine in March as he aims to be signed as a free agent or offered a position through the International Player Pathway Program.
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