Post-LOI Interview With Tight End Austin Holt

Nationally recruited tight end Austin Holt recounts the signing of his letter of intent to BYU, and gives a general overview of his past recruiting experiences. He also gives BYU fans his plans following high school.

February 6 became the day that BYU signed three top rated players, both in-state and nationally, from Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah. Tight end Austin Holt, kicker sensation Justin Sorensen and hard-nosed inside linebacker Iona Pritchard all inked their John Hancock, binding them to play football at BYU. To commemorate the moment, all three had an idea.

"We thought it would be kind of neat to make t-shirts that said ‘Bingham Young University,'" said Holt. "All three of us are going down to BYU, and with people talking about how Bingham is just another feeder school for BYU, me and Justin were one day hanging out after school and thought it would be kind of a cool thing."

"What they were was a shirt with the old school BYU logo," said Sorensen. "Then underneath that in the same color and following the logo, it said ‘Bingham Young University.' I'm sure you've seen those BYU t-shirts that said, ‘Band of Brothers' on them? Well on the back of our t-shirts it was going to say, ‘Band of Brothers: Together We Can Not Fail.' We all thought it would be kind of cool."

The idea was that all three would wear their shirts to the signing day activities. However, only one of the shirts came through, so the boys of Bingham weren't able to follow up on their plans. However, they still plan on getting the shirts finished so they can wear them in the future.

"We're still going to make the shirts," Sorensen added. "The stuff we were using to make them wasn't cooperating when we were trying to get them made at the time."

Prior to school, the "Bingham Three" met together for the signing of their letters. Later, they met again before a throng of photographers and media waiting to cover the signing day activities.

"We all met before school and they had they had something set up for us in the cafeteria," said Holt. "They had a table there with some football stuff and Bingham stuff all around. Then a little later that day around our second lunch, we had all the media there and they handed around a microphone to us. Derek [Tuimauga] said he was going to the University of Utah. Then me, Iona and Justin all said we were going to BYU and that we all signed our letter of intent all at the same time. After that we had a lot of pictures taken with our administration and stuff and then we had all the media talk to us. It was pretty cool."

So is Holt happy the long and grueling process is now finally over?

"After it was all over I was pretty happy that I signed and got it all over with," Holt said. "I was pretty happy that I don't have to talk to anybody else or any other university. Actually, for the past couple of months it's kind of gone down a little bit. I'm glad now that I won't come home and have mail everywhere, so I'm glad the mail will stop because that was getting pretty annoying."

Although Holt had committed early to Coach Mendenhall and his staff, BYU nevertheless won a major recruiting battle over Wisconsin, Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon, Utah and Florida for his services.

"They were the first one's to offer me as a sophomore," said Holt of BYU. "I think the first school that offers you and those coaches that you're more around makes a big impact in recruiting. At least it did for me personally. I know it did for Justin because he committed within hours of his scholarship offer."

Holt talked about when he initially committed.

"I committed early and it's been a year ago today or this week that I committed to them," said Holt. "I kind of went out and did all this stuff, but I was always firm. I wanted to go out and do my thing."

During BYU's Junior Day, Coach Mendenhall stated that one's word is their honor, and told the young and impressionable prospects to not commit to him if they are not willing to keep their honor. He also told them this standard should hold true with any coach they commit to and not just BYU.

"The one thing that I will always remember that Coach Mendenhall told me when I committed in his office last year and will keep for the rest of my is when he said, ‘You may leave this [office] with not a lot of things, but there is always one thing a man will always have when he leaves this place, and that is he is a man of his word.' I tried to base my life on that and told him that I'm going to do that for him."

So onward Holt went to Stanford, UCLA, Oregon, and even down to Florida, where he met with head coach Urban Meyer, whom was just coming off a National Championship. All of these universities enticed Holt with what they had to offer, but he stayed true the word he gave Coach Mendenhall that day in his office.

"Coach Mendenhall told me that many kids go out and find their way to BYU to be a little different," said Holt. "He kind of thanked me and congratulated me on going on some of these trips and doing these extra things because every player finds their way to BYU differently.

"Every trip that I went on didn't compare to the three things that BYU is build on: tradition, spirit, honor. Some may have one or two of those things, but none of them had them all like BYU.

"I had fun with the whole recruiting process, but it became a pain. I'm glad I went and did the things I did and there are no regrets. Stanford had offered me and I'm glad I went down there on a trip to learn that Stanford wasn't the place for me like BYU was."

Holt brought his nationally recognized skills to the Army All-American Bowl Game, where he excelled. While there, he had some opportunities to share his beliefs with others.

"You know, during the Army All-American game I had a lot of questions asked to me about the Mormon faith," said Holt. "I also had a lot of questions asked to [me] about BYU, and why I was going to BYU when all these other LDS kids were going to Notre Dame or USC and these other schools. I just explained to them the expectations of the honor code and how [those other LDS athletes] couldn't do it, or how the honor code was too strict for them or that maybe they couldn't do it. I just said, ‘Why would I want to do that to myself?'"

This was a topic brought up by Coach Mendenhall during an in-home visit with Holt.

"When Coach Mendenhall came to my house, he said it almost came out that [some LDS kids] have a different kind of respect or a different feeling about BYU, that it wasn't just for this snob Mormon people but for highly moral people that do their job in playing football while doing the right things. BYU definitely is not for everybody and he definitely explains that to you. It's a special place with different things and there might be some LDS kids that might have different goals in life than others, but for me, BYU is a place were I can continue to grow spiritually and definitely as a football player. On top of that, the education at BYU is pretty dang good. I'll get all three of them and I don't think you can get all three of those things to the level that BYU has to offer any place else."

Holt talked about what he will bring to the team when he dons the blue and white.

"Definitely what Coach Mendenhall said while I was at the [BYU summer] camp and in my home visits was he liked how I was able to both block and catch the football," Holt said. "In the recent past they kind of had a thing where Jonny Harline was more the catching tight end and Daniel Coats was more the blocking tight end. He really like the way in how I could do both. He was happy and said that will definitely get me out on the field much quicker and playing a lot more if you can do both things well."

BYU fans will have to wait a few years to see the skills of this highly rated and nationally recruited athlete on the football field; Holt is currently getting his mission papers ready in order to leave as soon as he can.

"I'm going to leave right out of high school and I'm actually working on my mission papers right now," said Holt. "So I'll turn them in and probably leave around August. I'll find out around May or June where I'll be going."

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