It’s a balmy day in Dallas, a dead 95 degrees, and Jesse Holley is at work.
The winner of Michael Irvin
and Long” stands 6’3” and weighs a solid 216 pounds. He vaguely resembles Larry Fitzgerald, though I suppose it could just be the hair.
As clichéd as it may be at this point, this is where the real work begins. His shirt is caked with sweat after his workout at Velocity Sports Performance in Dallas. There are no cameras. There are no advertisements out here. There’s not even air conditioning.
“Coming into camp, I fully expect people to look at me as just a guy who only made it here because of a TV show, coming to camp as sort of a gimmick,” Holley said, still breathing heavily from the workout.
“I think I’ll put those whispers, or those yells, to bed pretty early. Just going out, working hard, letting people know that, yes, my route was different than yours, but nonetheless, I am a player.”
This is a route that includes, thus far, a two-sport college career and an NCAA basketball championship under Roy Williams
at UNC in 2005, an experience that may aid him in his transition into the most scrutinized atmosphere in professional football.
“Just being able to play on that stage and understand that rock star type of atmosphere for the Tarheels somewhat prepared me now for going to Dallas,” Holley said.
However, the 25 year-old has no misconceptions concerning the magnitude of the Cowboys as an entity.
“Michael [Irvin] constantly reminds me that nothing has prepared me for what I’m going to get myself into as far as the magnitude of how people love the Cowboys. How wherever you go, people recognize and know the star.”
Irvin, the show's creator, has remained in close contact with Holley since the show wrapped in April.
“He’s been more than happy to open up and answer it and say, 'listen, this is what’s going on, this is what to expect. Try this, try that,'" Holley says. "So he’s given me great advice for on and off the field.”
Holley still has an uphill battle in front of him, but he remains positive, going into camp next week in San Antonio
“If getting on that 53 man roster means I got to pump air in the helmets with equipment managers, make water with the trainers, hold kicks, run down kickoffs, block a punt, whatever it is they need me to do until I can get my foot all the way in the door and really solidify myself as a dominant receiver, I’m willing to do,” Holley continued.
One gets the feeling that this statement isn’t hyperbolic. “I think this is where I belong. It’s been a dream come true getting here,” he continues. “But I don’t want to wake up yet.”