ARLINGTON, Texas — John Holcombe II hasn't had a chance to leave his mark on the football field since arriving at Kansas State. But he put himself on the map Sunday — on the basketball court.
Playing in a pick-up game on a K-State recreation court, a video posted on Twitter shows Holcombe leading a fast break. He finishes the play in emphatic fashion, throwing down a tomahawk dunk, posterizing a hapless would-be defender in the process.
Half an hour after the original video posted, Holcombe, a redshirt freshman quarterback, quoted the tweet and wrote, "(O)ops, think i committed a murder."
So.... this just happened 👀👀🤦🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/796IBxqznR— MUSE 🤘🏾 (@smuse4real) July 15, 2019
Those least surprised by Holcombe's highlight-reel slam are those around K-State's football program.
“(He's a) pretty athletic guy, and I hope he didn’t tear his ankle up," head coach Chris Klieman said at Big 12 Media Days Tuesday. "That’s my first thought is, 'I don’t want you to get hurt doing those things.' So when I saw the tweet, I was like, ‘Oh great, he’s out there playing hoops.’"
Klieman already was well aware of Holcombe's hops.
"Oh yeah, I knew," Klieman said. "He’s a freak athlete. He’s a really talented young man.”
The video went viral, with multiple Twitter accounts with large followings picking it up and sharing it. Most notably: SportsCenter's official account, which boasts nearly 36 million followers. Its tweet alone has more than 400,000 views as of Tuesday evening.
Defensive end Wyatt Hubert was happy for Holcombe's newfound fame.
"I knew it was going viral, but I didn't know it'd make SportsCenter viral," he said. "I don't know how many views on the video it has, or how many followers John has gotten on Twitter and Instagram since that posted. But at the end of the day, that's getting his name out there and letting people know he is, and he hasn't even played a snap yet at K-State. So that's a good brand-building video for him."
On the flip side, teammates also are doing their best to ensure Holcombe's ego doesn't get out of hand now that he's a viral sensation.
"I was just like, 'Wow. That was very, very impressive.' I told that to John," senior receiver Dalton Schoen said, "but also at the same time, I think a lot of us are trying to keep him a little level headed. But that just goes to show his athletic ability."
For comparison, defensive tackle Trey Dishon said he "used to be" a good basketball player. In high school. And at 6-foot-2 and more than 300 pounds, he can dunk.
But he said that wouldn't have helped him against Holcombe.
"Yeah, I probably would have," Dishon said of meeting the same fate as the woebegone defender on the video.
Hubert wasn't as willing to concede defeat. At 6-foot-3, he's just one inch shorter than Holcombe. And given his own jumping ability, Hubert said he'd acquit himself well defending Holcombe on the play. Maybe, Hubert said, he would have rejected Holcombe at the rim.
The only certainty in Hubert's mind is that Holcombe wouldn't agree with that assessment.
"He definitely wouldn't," Hubert said. "But he could have Shaq in front of him and he'd still disagree."