AUBURN, Ala. — As players filed into the postgame media room, Kerryon Johnson and Carl Lawson joked back-and-forth as they curled around the room to their respective interview seats. The butt of their banter: Josh Holsey, who was taking his post at the primary podium, which is generally reserved for the star of the show.
“Holsey,” Johnson said with a sarcastic eye-roll. “He’s big-time now.”
Johnson and Lawson know what it takes to step up to the main stage of the postgame festivities. They’ve both been there this season following strong individual performances.It was Holsey’s throne Saturday after the senior defensive back snatched his second game-sealing interception in as many weeks.
Holsey floated away from his man in the flat and read Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who made the mistake of double-tapping the football. Holsey trusted his instincts, and as a result, Auburn won.
“Helping my team seal the deal, it’s no better feeling, especially when you have your teammates running on top of you,” Holsey said. “They were snapping my head back a little too hard, so I’m going to go beat them up a little bit for that. But other than that, it’s a good feeling.”
The game-clinching interception led to a stampede in the south end zone, as Tigers defenders chased down Holsey to congratulated him on yet another highlight. Much of that celebration had to do with the narrow, 23-16 victory.
But a lot of it had to do with how much teammates love Holsey — and what he’s endured.
“I’m just so proud of him,” senior defensive lineman Montravius Adams said. “Being with him through all those surgeries, and seeing him make those plays, i’t really just a blessing. I’m just really proud of him.”
Holsey underwent two ACL surgeries over the course of his Auburn career. He said this week in the lead-up to the Vanderbilt game that he never imagined he would have as much of an effect on the Tigers defense as he’s having. He’s now asserting himself as, perhaps, the top defensive back on the team.
He leads Auburn with three interceptions in the season, and the two most recent — to close out Ole Miss and Vanderbilt — might be two of Auburn’s biggest plays all year from anyone.
For teammates who see it daily, that’s just Holsey.
“You know that dude, he’s an old guy, man. He knows a lot about football. Very smart guy. High football IQ,” Davis said. “That’s something I would expect for him to make, that play. He’s really just showing the world what he can do.”