Dana Holgorsen collects football plays.
“Preferably touchdowns,” the University of Houston coach said.
There are a few interceptions, too, a kickoff return, two-point conversion and one iconic hand signal. All part of Holgorsen’s “Wall of Fame,” a catalog of “15 or 18 plays” and counting of memorable and significant moments from his nearly 30-year college coaching career.
“A museum of plays,” UH wide receivers coach Daikiel Shorts Jr. said.
It’s the Louvre of college football. And it can be found, in all its Sharpie-scribbled glory, on the custom painted dining room walls inside Holgorsen’s home.
Back in summer 2020, with an abbreviated college football season about to begin, Holgorsen invited coaches from his offensive staff for a team meeting at his home. As the group sat in the dining room, Holgorsen noticed it looked “remarkably close to a (football) staff room” with walls that resembled a whiteboard. At one point, Holgorsen had an idea for a play, grabbed a pen and began to draw the formation on the wall.
“Of course,” Holgorsen said, “it didn’t come off.”
More College Sports News
Two summers later, the wall has become a conversation piece for recruits and parents, alumni, boosters, and any other visitors who happen to walk past the dining room. It’s also motivation for current players to make the type of game-defining play worthy of a spot on the wall.
“It all started with a play that meant nothing and then turned into actual moments,” Holgorsen said.
Word has spread about the wall. When former players from Holgorsen’s time at West Virginia and, most recently, Houston are back in town, the coach often asks what’s the best play they remember?
“And then I bring it back to life,” Holgorsen said.
The only criteria: “It has to be in a game of significance that we won.”
Holgorsen draws up the play, just like he would any other time. He adds details like the date, opponent, quarter, down-and- distance and final score. At the end, each player autographs the play. A TV on a nearby stone-covered wall allows Holgorsen to show video of each play.
“His own personal football art museum,” Shorts said.
A former wide receiver at West Virginia, Shorts had the honor of being the first play on the wall: a toe-tapping catch in the back of the end zone in a victory over Baylor in 2016.
“Next thing you know I go over there a month later, then a month later, then a month later, and now he has this nice dining room with white walls and it’s surrounded by a bunch of plays from former players he’s coached,” Shorts said. “It’s hard to walk past that part of the house and not say, ‘What the heck is going on in here?’ It’s an eye-grabber. The crazy thing is there is no color. “It’s all black-and-white. It’s an ultimate conversation starter.”
David Sills V, a former wide receiver at West Virginia, has a spot on the wall for his 60-yard touchdown catch against Texas in 2018.
On the play, Sills was flagged for taunting after flashing the double Horns Down gesture to the Texas crowd. Also from that game: quarterback Will Grier’s two-point conversion, a scramble untouched to the left corner of the end zone with 16 seconds left to beat the Longhorns 42-41. Naturally, “Horns Down” is scribbled on the wall.
Marcus Jones, UH’s All-America kick returner, has two plays on the wall from last season — a one-handed interception against Memphis (“Just an unbelievable play on his part,” Holgorsen said) and his 100-yard kickoff return with 17 seconds left to beat SMU 44-37.
There’s West Virginia’s Daryl Worley’s interception against Texas in 2015. Rasul Douglas’ 54-yard pick-six and Maurice Fleming’s interception in the same game against BYU in 2016. Ka’Raun White’s 17-yard catch, his second touchdown in the fourth quarter against Texas Tech in 2017.
Logan Holgorsen, the coach’s son, has a corner spot on the wall for his 58-yard touchdown to Jeremy Singleton in his first career start against Connecticut in 2019.
Former UH defensive lineman Payton Turner made a case for his strip sack that led to a Grant Stuard touchdown to be included on the wall. Only problem: it came in a 44-21 loss to UCF.
“Yeah, that’s a great play but we got our (butt) kicked that day,” Holgorsen told Turner. “So that’s not a memory I want to look back on.”
Not to worry. Turner is on the wall for a defensive play against Tulane in the 2020 season opener.
In town for a booster club function a few years ago, former UH quarterback Case Keenum was “grandfathered” onto the wall for his 4-yard quarterback draw with 49 seconds left to beat Texas Tech 29-28 in 2009. Holgorsen was UH’s offensive coordinator at the time.
“Every one of those plays has meaning,” Holgorsen said. “It’s just good memories.”
The most recent play to make the wall: Jake Herslow’s 26-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass from Clayton Tune with 3:27 left in UH’s 17-13 win over Auburn in December’s Birmingham Bowl. Included in the play diagram is a reference to Herslow’s Superman celebration that involved a motion as if he was ripping open his shirt.
On the way home from the game, Herslow said he began to contemplate if the play was big enough for the wall.
“Game-winning touchdown, in a bowl game, beating SEC opponent, I think it’s worthy for the wall,” Herslow said. “I’m sure it was me who was pressing to be on the wall. I’m sure it was me saying, ‘That’s wall worthy!”
Said Tune: “I’m honored to be on it. There’s a lot of special moments and memories on there.”
Herslow, who played only one season at UH, said the wall became a motivation for players to make a significant contribution.
“It’s kind of a dream to be up there,” Herslow said. “It really means a lot to me. I have a lot of pride being on the wall next to so many great players.”
Recently, UH leading receiver Tank Dell asked if he has a play on the wall. A bystander told him no.
“I have to get on that wall,” Dell said.
Holgorsen said he’s received compliments for the wall, although there has been one weird look.
“My handyman that came in — this was after four or five plays were up there — and he told me, ‘You know this is like a $20,000 paint job,’” Holgorsen said. “I told him I don’t plan on ever erasing it or trying to paint over it.”
Holgorsen points out the wall exists because he’s single.
“The only way I can actually pull this off is because I don’t have a wife,” he said. “All these coaches that have wives, there’s no way they could draw on their kitchen walls. Maybe in the garage or somewhere like that, but not in the dining room.”
Plenty of wall space remains to expand the collection.
“I’m looking forward to a lot more wins and getting a lot more players back so we can get more memories up there on that wall,” Holgorsen said.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.