When Ricklan Holmes was officially hired as the new head football coach at John Tyler in May, he delivered a simple and direct message to the Tyler ISD board members: “Make sure you’ve got ring sizes ready.”

That’s pretty strong bravado for someone who claims he got into coaching by accident.

In the spring of 2005, the former John Tyler and Oklahoma State standout was working out at Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City in the hopes of catching on with an NFL team after spending time with the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns.

Shortly before summer workouts for the high school team were to begin, longtime Putnam City coach Mark Little approached Holmes about working with some of his players.

“Long story short, I ended helping them out that season and the next season they put me through certification and I got my teaching certification and officially coached there in ‘06 and ‘07,” Holmes said.

Holmes then received a phone call from a former high school coach, who thought he’d be a perfect fit with new John Tyler head coach Dereck Rush. Holmes took the job and quickly moved up the ranks within the coaching staff.

“When Coach Rush was here I was the guy that took care of things for him when he was absent,” Holmes said. “And I was the guy that got the guys going with his direction and his leadership.

“But now it’s my turn.”

Holmes credits the impressive list of coaches he’s played under, which includes legendary high school coach Allen Wilson, current LSU boss Les Miles and three-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick, with sculpting his personality as a coach.

“Just seeing how they run programs and how they treat their players and how they put people in position to win, that was the main thing,” Holmes said.

The Lions reached the 4A Division I state semifinals a season ago and bring back 16 starters, including five players on the ETSN 25, the East Texas Sports Network’s Top 25 recruiting countdown.

Needless to say, expectations are through the roof.

“The whole world and the whole state of Texas thinks that we’re going to win it,” Holmes said. “We think we’re going to win it because we’ve been there. We went to the semifinals last year and we’ve got that same group back, so why wouldn’t you expect us to go back and win it?”