Damien Holmes has always taken pride in being a smart player.
One of his smartest moves of the offseason came away from the field.
When Jim Mora was named the Bruins new head coach, it got Holmes to thinking.
Knowing there was a chance UCLA would be switching to a 3-4 defense with Mora at the helm, Holmes saw it as a possibility to switch positions from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker.
With that in mind, he marched to Mora's office to chat with his new head coach.
"I figured we were going to go to (a) 3-4 so I wanted to talk to the coaches about a switch," Holmes said. "As I walked up there, before I said anything, they said they wanted to talk to me and that's when they made the switch."
It was a mutual decision that so far has paid dividends for Holmes and the Bruins defensively. He's made the adjustment quite well.
Mora didn't know much about Holmes, who registered 32 tackles, including six for loss in 2011 as a defensive end, when he took the job. All he knows is the player he's seen on the field this spring with a resemblance to Troy Polamalu who runs around Spaulding Field with the long, black, flowing locks hanging out of the back of his helmet and sporting the same uniform number, 43, as the former Trojan and current Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro.
"He is what I've seen. That's all I know," Mora said. "From day one, it looked natural. It didn't look to me like a position change guy. It looked like a guy that 'Alright, that's his position.' He never looked out of place."
It hasn't taken much for Holmes, who hasn't played with his hand off of the ground since his freshman year in high school, to adjust.
He's only trimmed down 10 pounds from his playing weight of 258 pounds last season. The majority of his preparation has been with the Bruins new strength and conditioning coordinator, Sal Alosi.
"His workouts benefit all kinds of positions," said Holmes of Alosi. "His workouts are all about leaning the guys out regardless of your position.
"I knew I'd be asked to do some coverage stuff and I didn't want to be a liability out there."
He's now showing off his mobility by dropping back in coverage and having the time of his life. Normally while the team worked on 7-on-7 drills, as a defensive end, Holmes would be forced to work on position drills. Now as a linebacker, he's very much a part of 7-on-7. His first day at his new position earlier this spring, he was ecstatic about what he was missing.
"This is the funnest thing in the world, I've never been a part of this," he said.