CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you close your eyes, you can easily pick out Charlotte Thunder safety Ardy Holmes Jr. The Charlotte native does a lot of talking on the field but has backed it up.

You could say his bark is as tough as his bite.

“He’s playing out of his mind," Head Coach Ervin Bryson says. "He’s one of my most consistent players on defense. He has a pick in both games, a pick-6, close to running a touchdown back on special teams. The main thing about Ardy is, he’s having fun.”

Holmes graduated from West Charlotte, attended Marshall University, but decided to come home to be a part of the first team in Charlotte 49ers history. Being a part of that team in his hometown left a lasting impression on him.

“Yeah, it represents a lot for my entire community, which is the west side of Charlotte, the south side of Charlotte," Holmes says.  "I do it for the younger guys that are coming up. A lot of those guys have the same dream that I have. I realize that because I train them. Being a pioneer for UNC-Charlotte gives me a chip on my shoulder, knowing that there’s not a lot of guys from my community that can say that, so i just hold it down for them.”

Holmes continues to chase his dream of one day playing for the Carolina Panthers, and he hopes playing for the Thunder in American Arena League will one day help him realize that dream and inspire others along the way.

“We want our guys who don’t get shots right off the bat coming out of college to keep their hopes alive, keep their dreams alive," Holmes says. "We show them that this could possibly be a steppingstone to keeping your dream alive, if you really feel like you can play football."

The Charlotte Thunder is off to a 2-0 start and will try to make it 3-0 as it faces Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The Thunder has allowed just 24 points in its first two games this season.