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Penn State safety enters transfer portal, while ex-Lion from Harrisburg finds new home

DEREK LEVARSE
(Wilkes-Barre) Times-Leader (TNS)
C.J. Holmes

It’s not known whether C.J. Holmes was one of the 75 players officially brought back to campus by Penn State this week to start preparing for football. As a non-scholarship player, though, the odds of it weren’t great.

And for a former four-star recruit who started out at Notre Dame, getting back on the field is a top priority.

Holmes, a backup safety for the Nittany Lions, has entered his name in the transfer portal in order to talk to other schools about another move. Rivals.com first reported the development, which Holmes confirmed on social media.

“I just wanna ball!” Holmes wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

It has already been a long path for Holmes, a highly regarded prospect from Connecticut who initially signed with Notre Dame to play running back, seeing the field briefly as a true freshman.

Holmes was dismissed by the Fighting Irish after that first season because of a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, which was later dismissed. He transferred to Penn State in 2018, where he had to sit out a year before appearing in a handful of games last season as a safety.

Barring a waiver from the NCAA, Holmes would need to sit out another year if he were to head to another FBS program but could play immediately if he joins an FCS school.

Heading into his redshirt junior season, playing time at Penn State outside of special teams woork still looked to be a long shot. Though the Lions weren’t able to hold any spring practices because of the coronavirus pandemic, the program released a depth chart in April and Holmes was listed as a fourth-team safety — behind newly arrived true freshman Enzo Jennings.

Penn State heads into next season with returning starter Lamont Wade at one safety spot and fellow senior Jaquan Brisker, a Lackawanna College alum, in line for the other first-team job.

Team co-captain Jonathan Sutherland and Tyler Rudolph were listed as second-teamers with Jennings and converted cornerback Trent Gordon on the third team.

Damion Barber

New home for Barber: Another recent transfer portal entrant, defensive tackle Damion Barber, has already moved on.

Barber announced Tuesday he will be playing at FCS Austin Peay in Tennessee. By dropping down a level, the redshirt junior from Harrisburg will be eligible to play next season.

“To all my brothers, coaches and fans at Penn State, there is no LOVE lost,” Barber wrote on Twitter. “Penn State will forever hold a place in my heart! Thank you Nittany Lions!”

Barber joins a handful of other Penn State players to transfer this offseason, including WR Justin Shorter (Florida), WR Mac Hippenhammer (Miami, Ohio) and defensive end Daniel Joseph (N.C. State). Running back Ricky Slade is also in the portal and has not publicly announced a destination.