HERO Sports is counting down the days until the kickoff of the 2018 college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, by featuring the best player in the FBS at each jersey number, from 99-1. Each day, from May 18 through Aug. 24, we'll publish one article showcasing the best player whose jersey number matches the number of days remaining.
No. 36 Cole Holcomb
North Carolina – LB
Cole Holcomb didn't hold any FBS offers during his senior season at New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) High School in 2014 (Air Force offered very late, days before graduation). That didn't matter to his coach, Lane Jenkins, who knew Holcomb — a safety, linebacker and tight end for the Barracudas — was better than the FCS offers he was receiving and found Holcomb a walk-on spot at North Carolina.
Holcomb, however, wasn't sure he could play major college football.
"At the moment I didn’t think I could (do this),” he recalled when graduating high school. “I’m going to be honest. I thought I was just going to almost be a regular student at some point, and just go to college."
Four years later, he's not "just" going to college (even his Twitter profile says exclusively, "Attending the University of North Carolina"; he's the Tar Heels' starting weak-side linebacker and the best No. 36 in college football.
Holcomb earned a scholarship after appearing in all 14 games as a sophomore in 2015, mostly on special teams. Then the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder exploded as a junior, leading the team in tackles (115) while posting five tackles for loss and five pass breakups.