JACKSONVILLE — National Signing Day is a time when high school football recruits sign their National Letters of Intent to become student athletes at a university.
But not every single recruit has the same path in life.
For Jeffery Holland of Trinity Christian Academy, his path took a turn when he was 9 years old.
And because of what happened before he was even a teenager, Holland does everything he does for one person.
But that person is no longer here.
That person was Holland’s mother, Tracy Singletary, who died at the age of 35 from breast cancer.
“That’s who I do it for,” Holland said. “She always wanted me to be like Fred Taylor, so I got to grant that wish.”
The No. 20 outside linebacker in the country signed his National Letter of Intent to play out his collegiate career at Auburn on Wednesday, selecting the Tigers over both Florida and Ole Miss.
Holland suspects that his mother will be watching over him when he takes the field on Saturdays at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.
Holland’s mother isn’t the only one that means a lot to the four-star recruit out of Jacksonville. The rest of his family has played an important role in his success to this point.
“My family means a lot to me,” Holland said. “They’ve been here through thick and thin, they’ve been here since day one.”
Verlon Dorminey had the chance to see Holland grow as a player on the field as Holland’s coach at Trinity Christian Academy. Dorminey first started playing Holland as a freshman and coached him for four years.
“He’s a great kid and he’s just another kid that’s easy to coach and we’re sorry to lose,” Dorminey said.
But Dorminey also had a chance to see over four years what Holland’s family meant to him and how he uses his family for strength.
“Jeffery’s family means a lot to him,” Dorminey said. “His dad is big in his life, he lost his mom to cancer when he was young. His grandmother is a big part of his life and she really helps him. He has a good family.”
There was another part of Holland’s life that made him grow as a person. That part was his high school, Trinity Christian Academy. The school is a Christian educational school that teaches young men and women values.
And it was fitting that his signing ceremony was at the church auditorium at the academy.
“It means a lot to me,” Holland said. “They changed me as a whole person overall. I just love this school, I love the people at this school, I just wanted to thank them.”
It’s been a long path for Holland that finally concluded on National Signing Day. After losing his mother at such a young age, Holland had someone else take care of him, his father Jeffery Holland Sr.
Holland Sr. took on the leading role of raising four kids after Singletary’s death. He made sure Jeffery, the youngest of four siblings, made it this point in his life while honoring his mother’s memory.
“She was everything,” Holland Sr. said. “From there on, I took over with my four kids, and I figured all of them would be successful and he did very well.”
Follow Luis Torres on Twitter @LFTorresIII