Jason Holmes’ time as a Saint will continue in 2017 after signing a one-year deal at the end of last season. He also earned permanent status on the team’s senior squad since AFL rules state that players must be elevated or delisted after three years on a rookie list.
His status, however, appears to be up in the air. The ruckman from Chicago, Illinois, USA was not in the lineup for any of St. Kilda’s preseason matches with Port Adelaide, Carlton, or Sydney.
One reason for the uncertainty could be that the Saints already have three pure ruckmen signed beyond 2016—Tom Hickey, Billy Longer, and Lewis Pierce. Longer and Pierce are under contract until the end of 2018, while Hickey gained attention after a solid campaign last year.
Adding Holmes to this mix would seem to create a logjam, giving the club four at the ruck position while many other teams have two or three plus another who could fill in as needed. You’d think the Saints would want versatile players who could also compete at the forward position. The other side of this is that they like Holmes enough to sign him and add him to the big club.
Jason Holmes played college basketball in the U.S. for Mississippi Valley State and Morehead State in Kentucky. Saying no to the possibility of playing pro basketball, he impressed at the AFL combine in Los Angeles and then joined St. Kilda as an international rookie in 2013.
Holmes played at Sandringham in 2014 and 2015, seeing action in 37 senior games and kicking six goals. He also saw action in 14 VFL games in 2016 and then made history when he suited up for the Saints’ final three games of 2015. This choice to become the first American to play AFL footy was likely a difficult one. His brother, Oakland Raiders’ (NFL) receiver Andre Holmes was getting married at that time.
Holmes also played in the final two games of season 2016, with 59 hitouts total in wins over Richmond and Brisbane. So he has the experience and the feel of the big leagues and undoubtedly is ready to leave a larger impression.