FAU's Holley double trouble in football, basketball

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BOCA RATON When Florida Atlantic was recruiting receiver Avery Holley last year out of Pompano Beach-Ely High School, Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger went to watch Holley play in a basketball game.

Schnellenberger wasn't too impressed with Holley's outing that night, but he did see that Holley was an athlete who possessed quickness that would help his football team

"He had a terrible game and scored about eight points," Schnellenberger said. "But I'm not interested in his basketball."

Even if Holley had an off-night when Schnellenberger was at the game, it must have been an aberration because FAU basketball coach Rex Walters also was interested in the 6-foot, 150-pound Holley as a guard.

"He's a great kid and a guy that can help us," Walters said. "He's athletic and tough. We recruited him when we first got here and then we found out football was recruiting him. He'll be a pretty good player for us."

In a few weeks, Holley, a freshman, will trade in his cleats for high-tops, but Holley already brings some of his basketball skills to the football field.

"In football I use the awareness and quickness and ability to avoid people that I also use in basketball," Holley said. "I think that helps me and those skills go hand-in-hand."

The opportunity to play both sports is what convinced Holley to sign with FAU.

Holley said he had early interest from larger schools such as Florida and Miami for football, but FAU was the only school to guarantee he could play both sports.

"All the other schools mainly wanted him for football and would just give him a shot at basketball," said Holley's father, David. "But FAU was only one who wanted him for basketball, too."

Basketball practice has begun, and Holley has sat in on some workouts and meetings, but Holley is still committed to football right now.

Even as a freshman, Holley has been a valuable addition to FAU's receiving corps. He is second on the team with 198 yards on 15 catches and his two touchdowns ties him for the team lead.

"It's a fortunate position for me to be in," Holley said. "It's a tough task, but I have a little swagger with me, and as a younger guy I like when it when the older guys will come over and pat me on the back."

In FAU's 29-0 victory vs. Arkansas State, Holley led FAU's receivers with 46 yards on three catches, but he isn't happy unless he reaches the end zone and has shown a flair for getting yards after the catch.

"He's doing a lot of things on natural skill, and his ability to catch and run after the catch is producing a pressure spot," Schnellenberger said.

And that's just what Holley, who loves to get the chance to show what he can do with the football, wants to hear.

"The coaching staff knows I am a playmaker and have told me I'll get the football and that really settles me down," Holley said.