On Friday, Daryell Walker made his college choice, verbally committing to play football at Hampton.
On Tuesday, Walker learned that the Pirates will have a new head coach.
"I was shocked," Walker said. "It just came out of nowhere to me."
But Walker, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound defensive end at Bethel High, said the news that Jerry Holmes had been replaced by veteran Pirates assistant Donovan Rose wouldn't change his plans.
"I still feel confident I'm going," Walker said. "It's pretty much the same coaching staff that should be there."
Holmes, who went 6-5 in his one season as HU head coach, is a 1976 Bethel graduate. That impressed Walker, who said he hadn't yet spoken to Rose, the Pirates' defensive coordinator last season after 17 years coaching defensive backs.
"With hard work and determination, and with having the players and coaches on one accord, we can make Hampton a force to be reckoned with again," Rose said in a statement Tuesday.
Rose will be introduced as the Pirates' coach at a news conference today. HU sophomore wide receiver and Bethel product Darius Mullen said the players talked Tuesday about attending the event.
"That might be good thing for support, for as many of us to be there as we can," said Mullen, who worked out in the weight room on Tuesday and said the players' mood was "business as usual. We can't stop. We've got to keep pushing."
Holmes, who replaced longtime Hampton head coach Joe Taylor after three seasons as the Pirates' defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, was dismissed Monday night. Hampton athletic director Lonza Hardy said the decision was made after the school learned of Holmes' plans to interview with NFL teams — news that Hardy said was hampering Hampton's recruiting efforts.
Holmes, who played for 12 pro seasons, spent five years as an NFL assistant.
On Monday night, Hardy said he recommended to Hampton president William Harvey that Holmes be replaced with Rose, a 1979 Hampton graduate and part of 14 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles as an assistant coach.
"Having a person of his credentials, (who was) a part of championships and (Hampton's) winning tradition, I think that's going to bring stability to the program," Hardy said.
Neither Rose nor Holmes returned messages Tuesday.
Pirates junior punter Jahmal Blanchard called Holmes a "father figure," but didn't think his dismissal would breed any resentment among the players.
"I don't like the decision," Blanchard said. "But the administration, it's what they think is best."
Blanchard described a somber mood that turned to determination after Holmes announced his departure during a team meeting Monday.
"At first, it was like, 'Wow, we lost someone we really care about,' and it was like a negative feeling," he said. "But when everybody got together and talked about it, it became more of like, not a celebration, but like, 'We can learn from this. We can grow from this.'
"We're playing for more than just our names. We're playing for more than that now. We have all the respect in the world for Coach Holmes and all that he does for us. So now we have more hunger to prosper this next season, all because of that man."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun