High School Sports

Two of nation's top defenders headed to South Pointe

South Pointe High School's football team could end up with two more Stallions hitched to an already loaded wagon.

Coach Bobby Carroll said two players from Charlotte's Independence High School have enrolled at South Pointe -- safety Devonte Holloman and Dominque Walker, who plays linebacker and defensive back.

Holloman, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, is ranked as the No. 1 overall player in North Carolina by Rivals.com, a respected recruiting site on the Web. Rivals has him ranked No. 6 at his position nationally and he is ranked 76 nationally among players at all positions.

He has committed to Clemson and gives the Stallions two of the nation's top players. South Pointe quarterback/defensive back Stephon Gilmore is ranked No. 1 by Rivals in South Carolina.

Holloman, a 3.8 student, has the 24 credits it takes to graduate in this state. He has a couple of required classes to take and plans to graduate after the first semester and enroll early at Clemson.

"I'm here for several reasons,'' Holloman said. "My parents are getting a divorce and I didn't really want to go to another Charlotte high school. When my dad moved down here, I decided to come with him.

"I play AAU basketball with Stephon and we are good friends. I'm happy to be here with him and hope I can help the team, give them an extra push they need.''

Before either player can suit up, they have to gain eligibility through the South Carolina High School League. That is the next step, Carroll said, even though they are allowed to participate in summer workouts and in 7-on-7 passing competitions.

The school must submit transfer and eligibility forms to the league, then await its decision. The rules apply to all transfers.

"There is a protocol we have to go through and we will follow it to a 'T,''' Carroll said. "We want everyone in our attendance zone to play football because we have only 1,300 students and have a place for anyone who wants to come out.

"When I was at Northwestern, we were always excited when a new kid moved in. I'm sure it's the same at Rock Hill. So sure, we're very happy to have these two players. They come from an incredible program.''

Independence won 107 straight games and seven consecutive Class AAAA state championships before last year. The Patriots were 13-3 and lost to New Bern in the championship game.

Walker was ruled ineligible and missed the title game when it was discovered he lived just outside the Independence attendance zone after starting two years for the Patriots. He was suspended for 14 games in North Carolina this year and the SCHSL will be charged with deciding if he's eligible here.

He is eligible academically and according to Carroll, was allowed to play other sports last year in the winter and spring seasons. Like Holloman, Walker is an honors student on track to graduate early.

The SCHL rule book says in Section 5 under eligibility: In case of a new student, he must be properly registered in his new school and he must have been eligible by South Carolina High School League standards to represent the school from which he transfers.

The rule is vague on whether the former school has to or does not have to be a fellow in-state school.

"Hopefully, I will be approved, but if not we'll appeal it in August,'' said the 5-10, 205-pound Walker. "When we moved from Philadelphia, my dad looked at a home in Rock Hill and if we had moved here I would have played at Northwestern.

"Coming here to South Pointe feels great; a talented team that grew up together and was 9-4 in its second season. When I got here last Monday, the players gathered around in the weight room and welcomed me, didn't treat me like an outcast.''

Jim Baxter, the owner and operator of SCVarsity.com, South Carolina's Rivals site, said if Holloman and Walker are ruled eligible, it will change the face of Class AAAA football in this state.

"I have South Pointe ranked high on the preseason Class AAAA poll, but these two guys will strengthen an already good football team,'' Baxter said. "We're not talking about two good players. We're talking about two of the best joining a team loaded with good players.

"If they play, their impact will be felt and will level the playing field. Byrnes is the most fundamentally sound team, but I felt South Pointe had the best talent in the division before these two showed up. It will be interesting to see how the High School League handles it.''

Baxter also pointed out that the addition of Holloman and Walker -- if he plays defensive back -- will give the Stallions one of the best secondaries in the nation.

They will join Gilmore and Pat Burris, son of former Northwestern and Arkansas standout Pat Burris and the nephew of Jeff Burris, who is retired from the NFL and played at Northwestern and Notre Dame. Everyone, Baxter said, knows Gilmore and that Burris might be the state's top sleeper.

"I don't see how anybody will be able to pass on those guys,'' Baxter said.

Holloman lifted weights and went through workouts with the Stallions for the first time Tuesday afternoon. Like Walker last week, was quickly taken in by his hopefully new teammates.

Depending on how the league rules, and Holloman looks fine in that perspective, he could be wearing No. 2 for South Pointe. The jersey was worn last year by Laterridous Duncan, who was in the school's first graduating class.

"They already promised it to me.'' Holloman said.