Kamathi Holsey’s journey to the NFL has been an unconventional one, but by the time the 2018 NFL draft is over, Holsey is hoping to hear his name called. If he doesn’t hear his name on draft day, that won’t be anything new for Kamathi because he’s used to being underrated. He’s also used to working harder than anyone else in the building to prove his doubters wrong.
Out of high school, Holsey went without a single D1 offer. While that may have signaled an end to most people’s football careers, Kamathi decided he wasn’t finished yet. He went to Independence Community College in Independence, KS for junior college ball instead. ICC provided a stepping stone to Division 1. After a successful season, Kamathi had 6 D1 offers. After verbally committing to Troy, Holsey, who is originally from the Philadelphia area, decided playing closer to home was important, so on national signing day, he committed to the University of Buffalo.
His first year at UB saw Kamathi working to establish himself as an on-field threat. He finished the season with 19 catches for 189 yards and 1 TD. But his second season with the Bulls (2017-18) was a much more successful campaign. Holsey saw an expanded role as a deep threat and his numbers responded. He finished with 53 targets, 39 catches, 548 yards and 1 TD. While those numbers are underwhelming to the average observer, a deep dive into the analytics tell a different story. Of his 53 targets, Pro Football Focus deemed only 35 of them catchable.
The deep threat ability of Holsey is where the analytics start to get exciting. Kamathi averaged 17.7 yards per reception, which was better than the likes of Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton and Michael Gallup, who are all top receivers in this year’s draft class. Additionally, he was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 19th most effective deep target in this year’s draft. Of his 53 targets, 12 were on balls that traveled over 20 yards in the air. Of those 12 deep targets, 6 were deemed catchable. Holsey caught all 6 of them with over half of his yards for the season coming on those catches (237). When asked about his role within the UB offense, Holsey said “they used me a lot to go win the 50/50 balls.”
At 6’3 ½” and 215 pounds, Kamathi isn’t built like your normal deep threat. He recognizes the kind of mismatch that he can be in the NFL and says that he sees himself working very well in the slot. “I wasn’t used a lot in the slot at UB, but I know I can be a mismatch for a safety. I don’t think there’s a safety or linebacker that can cover me” Holsey said when asked whether he could work in the slot at the NFL level.
These stats are significant enough where Holsey is starting to get interest from NFL teams, specifically the team close to where he played college ball. Kamathi has a pre-draft workout scheduled with the Buffalo Bills. When asked what he could bring to the Bills that other receivers can’t, Holsey said “I’m used to working from the bottom and I plan on working harder than anyone else”
From no D1 offers out of high school to NFL hopeful, Kamathi Holsey has had a roller coaster football career. He isn’t ready for that career to be over yet and plans on using his past underdog status as a motivator. Even if he goes undrafted, Holsey plans on working hard to make his dream a reality. Whatever team is lucky enough to land him, fans should prepare to see Kamathi on Sundays in the future.
Follow Kamathi’s journey on Twitter at @woo215_