The Charger Blog

Chargers Football Standout Excels in FCS National Bowl

Devenaire Holmes ’23 M.S., a former Chargers wide receiver, recently played with “the best of the best” – athletes from across the country who competed before a team of scouts representing football leagues from across the globe. Beyond his football aspirations, he has his sights set on a career as a federal agent.

January 10, 2024

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Dev Holmes ’23 M.S. on the gridiron.
Dev Holmes ’23 M.S. on the gridiron.

Devenaire “Dev” Holmes ’23 M.S. has been playing football since he was four years old. His career has brought him to the gridiron at the University of New Haven and, most recently, to a high-profile all-star game in Florida late last year.

A wide receiver, Holmes was named to the Northeast-10 All-Conference First Team in 2021 and 2022. Shortly after his last season as a Charger came to an end, he received an invitation that could be a new beginning, bringing him to play in the 2023 FCS National Bowl in Daytona, Florida.

                        Dev Holmes ’23 M.S., a former wide receiver for the Chargers.
Dev Holmes ’23 M.S., a former wide receiver for the Chargers.

The game had, in previous years, included athletes Holmes knew well – his former teammate Connor Degenhardt ’23 MBA and Holmes’s older brother Daquan, a Northeast-10 Conference standout who played football for American International College. Holmes learned from them what to expect when he headed south for his own opportunity to compete.

After he accepted the invitation, Holmes received an itinerary. He’d practice for two days, then play in the bowl game on the day three.

“The experience was cool,” said Holmes, who earned a master’s degree in national security from the University. “It was good competition the first two days of practice. They were days that really mattered to see if you could compete against good competition from around the country. They were all best of the best.”

‘Coach P prepared me’

Despite the competition and, even, the rivalries, the experience was a great way for the athletes to come together, Holmes says. He immediately connected with fellow athletes from other schools including those from Northeast-10 Conference members Bentley University and Southern Connecticut State University, the Chargers’ crosstown rival. The players have excelled in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) as well as the Division II and Division III levels.

“It’s funny how football works because you could throw a bunch of random people together and somehow, someway, we’re going to connect,” he said. “We’ll know somebody, perhaps a mutual friend. It’s a small world.”

Besides each other, Holmes and his fellow athletes were there to connect with those who were there to observe them. There were scouts from the National Football League as well as the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League, and international leagues. For Holmes, it was a great way to learn about different ways of playing the game, as well as different coaching styles.

                        Dev Holmes ’23 M.S. (in white) mid-play.
Dev Holmes ’23 M.S. (in white) mid-play.

When he laced up his cleats for practice, Holmes found the practice plan to be almost the same as what Chris Pincince, the Chargers head coach, used, including one-on-one drills and team runs.

“The coaching staff that Coach Pincince has here prepared me very well for a moment like this,” said Holmes. “It was an efficient practice, like how Coach P has his practices. The way Coach P coaches and expects you to know everything, that’s exactly what happened here. Coach P prepared me for that as much as possible.”

‘Be yourself and compete’

Still, Holmes recalls there were a few differences in the practices and in the game. Each team had five quarterbacks playing, and they were rotated often to give each an opportunity to play. Because they hadn’t played together long, offensive players didn’t have the opportunity to get into a rhythm with their quarterbacks as much as if they’d played together over the course of a season or longer. The players were also under the watchful eye of the scouts – that’s why Holmes says the practice days were critical, more so, even, than the game.

While he says the game itself was a bit “nerve-wracking,” Holmes was also prepared in that he already had experience playing before scouts. They’d come to watch him and many of his teammates play for the Chargers.

“You perform well, they’re going to reach out and talk to you, and it solidifies your talent,” he said. “All you have to do is be yourself and compete. You don’t think about it too much. You sometimes saw guys who were nervous and thinking about it too much and not just playing football. At the end of the day, it’s just playing football in front of other people – that’s how I look at it.”

‘It’s about being prepared’

Holmes also described the bowl game as “exciting.” The American Team – Holmes’s team – and the National Team went head-to-head, with the National Team coming out on top, 14-12. He says it was an incredible opportunity to play the game he loves with some extraordinary athletes.

                        Dev Holmes ’23 M.S.
Dev Holmes ’23 M.S.

“After the game no one’s head was down,” he recalls. “No one was upset about the game. We were excited we got to experience that.”

Now that he’s back from Florida, Holmes is focused on his career – whether that’s football or working as a federal agent. He’s excited about both possibilities, and he dreams of working for the U.S. Secret Service, or, possibly, the Drug Enforcement Administration. He’s in the process of applying to the Secret Service through the University’s Special Agent Talent & Achievement Recruitment (STAR) Program. And if an opportunity to play football comes his way, he’s wide open to receiving it.

“Plan A to become a federal agent,” he said. “When I came to the University for grad school in 2021, I made a lot of connections and networked with a lot of people who could guide me in the right direction and help me with the process to become a federal agent. It’s about being prepared and being ready to start life. If football comes, I’ll take the opportunity.”