Holt Gets Ready For 2010 Season

Rated the fifth-best tight end in the country for the class of 2008, Austin Holt has returned home from serving a mission in the state of Missouri. Since being home, Holt has been preparing for fall camp by studying the playbook daily and working out with the many talented quarterbacks found at BYU.

At Bingham High School, Holt was a national tight end prospect with offers from schools such as Florida, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Wisconsin. After signing with BYU, Holt received his mission call to serve the people in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

"There was a lot of church history is Missouri from all the persecution that happened to all the church members out there," Holt said. "I served in St. Louis so there wasn't as much church history there, but Nauvoo was about two hours away from us and Independence was about two or three. My last area was in Columbia, Missouri where the University of Missouri is located at."

Local Latter-day Saints in Columbia, Missouri help keep alive one interesting bit of Church history involving one of the original Apostles.

"There's actually a cool story about Parley P. Pratt who escaped from a jail in Columbia. Somehow he was able to escape and ran away, so every year they do a Parley P. Pratt marathon in the first week of July. I think they just run a couple of miles and everyone is invited even though it's mainly just members of the Church. They said they definitely have a bunch of people participate and said a couple of years ago a bunch of members that were related to Parley P. Pratt from out west came out and ran it.

"I don't know what to really say other than I loved it to death and the Church is growing slowly out there. I was called on a Spanish-speaking mission out there but did only about seven-and-a-half months of work [with Spanish] and the rest was English."

While in Columbia, Holt served on the University of Missouri campus for the last five-and-a-half months of his mission.

"My ward touched the campus with all the medical students, so we were pretty much on campus a couple of times a week," he said.

Serving in Columbia didn't convert Holt into a Tiger fan. Instead, he never stopped being a Cougar fan.

"Oh, it was funny because there's a lot of members out there that went to BYU," Holt said. "I gave a talk one Sunday and I said, 'There were a lot of things that you really realize on a mission, and one of those things I realized while serving out here in Columbia is that I'm not a Mizzou fan but I'm definitely a BYU Cougars fan.' Some within the congregation just looked at me while others started laughing. It was definitely a good experience serving in Missouri."

Holt is now having to shake off the mission rust and get back into football shape, but fortunately he was able to get a jumpstart on the process while in his last area.

"I was able to work out the last five-and-a-half months of my mission," said Holt. "We lived in a duplex in Columbia and we had quite a few weights and a Gold's Gym elliptical machine in the garage. I definitely see that as a blessing in disguise for me to have that there at the end of my mission.

"I've actually grown a little on my mission. I think as far as height goes I'm about the same, but my dad says I'm a little taller, but I haven't measured myself. I'm around 6'5" and about 245 pounds now."

Since returning home, Holt has been preparing for fall camp, which is just around the corner.

"I've been up there for about two-and-a-half weeks now working out with the team pretty much every day of the week lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday," Holt said. "Then we have team player-run practices on Tuesday and Thursday, so it's been a good experience. I went out and caught some balls from the jugs machine and working out and slowly getting my legs back. I actually came back in better shape than I thought I would come back in. I've been studying the plays and going over the routes for the past two-and-a-half weeks, and it's been good to throw the ball around with Lark, Munns, Heaps and Nelson. It's definitely tough being away from football for two years but I'm slowly getting back into it. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now."

As mentioned, Holt has worked with the various Cougar quarterbacks, including Jake Heaps.

"[Heaps has] helped me with the offense, and for only being here since the winter he's done a really good job and has handled himself really well. He's a really good guy and has a rifle for an arm. He's really helped me a lot and is a really good guy. I like him a lot.

"I try to go out every day after I lift in the mornings. I'll go out and catch with the jugs machine or with Munns, Lark, Nelson or Heaps. We'll go out and throw the ball around when we can, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays for sure for the player-run practices. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I try to go out and catch at least a hundred balls to try and get my hand and eye coordination back. It's a little different than riding a bike or handing out a Book of Mormon than it is to catch a football."

The tight end corps at BYU is both deep and talented, and Holt will be right in the mix of what could be one of the more talented groups in the country.

"I've met some of the new up-and-coming freshmen and the tight end group really likes each other," Holt said. "They all seem like really good guys to work with. Playing at the high school level, then going away from the game for a couple of years, and then jumping right in at the college level is tough. I'm on a little bit of a learning curve but I'm learning a lot every day. We've got a lot of talent at that position and I think we're going to be alright."

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