"I could have died."
Probably a little overstated, but considering the circumstances, there's at least a hint of truth there as St. Augustine high school wide receiver recounts hearing about his first written offer for football of the year. "I was in my car and my coach called me up and told me I had gotten my first written offer," Menelik said. "And, when he told me who I got it from, I almost ran right through a red light."
The offer came from the University of Nebraska, the staff of the Huskers the first to throw their hat into the wring for this budding California star. You'd think that regardless of Nebraska's storied tradition, however, that it would be an offer from almost 2,000 miles away that would cause him to lose his bearings.
There's a couple of reasons for that, the first being that while Holt is indeed a California resident, it's not from where he hails, Menelik a native of Denver, Colorado. In addition and on a lighter note, Menelik's immediate affection for the Huskers comes from the fact that they are his most successful team on another type of playing-field. "I don't know why, but whenever I played "NCAA" on my playstation and I was Nebraska, I'd never lose," he said. "I was beating the heck out of everyone."
There's other reasons, of course, as Holt didn't find out about Nebraska through a video game, his experiences watching the Huskers coming much, much earlier. "Nebraska was one of the teams I liked when I was younger and they were just dominating everyone," Holt said. "They were like THE team for awhile."
That's what this first offer is to him. "It's huge," Menelik said. "I mean, that's big-time football. You look at what they have done, all the awards, trophies and everything, to get an offer from that place is incredible."
The connection to the Huskers doesn't stop there, as Holt not only can relate to the University of Nebraska from his own past, but also from that of the near-future of a former teammate of his, just this last season. All-American kicker, Jordan Congdon inked his name on the dotted line, officially becoming a Husker and believe it or not, it's a kicker that served as one of St. Augustine's best role models last year. "He was as dedicated as anyone you are going to see," Menelik said. "He was in the weight room as much or more than anyone and he's just been a very good friend to me."
When Congdon officially became a Husker, Menelik said that while Nebraska had been a team he had followed to a certain extent already, this cemented the big red as a team he'd be looking at for some time. And, even as far back as last year, he knew they were looking at him as well. "My coach said that Nebraska was interested in me," Menelik said. "There were some other colleges showing a lot of interest as well, but nobody came through with an offer until now."
"Now, it's like everything I have done up to this point has been worth all the hard work."
The hard work does pay off for some, but it doesn't hurt when you're already in possession of a 6 foot, 4 inch, 205 pound frame that can gallop at a reported 4.5 pace in the forty. It's also a benefit in getting attention when you have a vertical of 36 inches.
All that and more went into Holt's totals last season, Menelik catching just over 40 balls for close to 800 yards lass year, over a forth of those (12 total) going in for scores. Holt scored a touchdown on defense as well, but not from a position he's used to playing with any real frequency. "I had to go in and play rush end," Holt said. "They tried throwing a pass over me, I batted it, caught it and took it in for a touchdown."
"I got a free steak dinner for that."
Menelik is all about eating beef, but he's partial to the offensive side, which is good, because that's what he's being recruited at by all those that have taken the time to send letters and talk to his head coach.
It's obvious, however, that Menalik Holt is versatile and with his impressive measurements, the Nebraska offer might be the first, but probably not the last. "It will be interesting to see what happens next," Holt said. "That offer might mean there's more on the way, so it's pretty exciting."
Even before the offer arrived, Holt was already well into thinking about the next level. Just this last week, Holt took an unofficial to UCLA, attended a camp at Stanford and has visited San Diego State as well. For the future, Holt hopes that he can visit Oregon, Colorado, Michigan and now, of course, Nebraska.
Between now and then could be some school camps, but Holt isn't certain about any that he might attend, though, he's been invited to quite a few. His concentration will be attending the myriad of combines available in his area if at all possible.
After that? It's all business and as Menalik said, it's unfinished for him and his teammates. "There's so much we want to do this year," he said. "We want to get our coach the coach of the year award, because he deserves it and we have gotten so close three out of the last five years. We want to do that, take CIF and whatever else we can accomplish."
That's been Holt's focus since his team's season has ended, but he's going to try and diversify his attention over the off-season, looking at his team's future and his own future as well. "I want to concentrate on my season, but I want to look at schools to," Menalik said. "Nobody from my family has ever graduated from a four-year college and I am going to be the first, so it's important that I take my time and look real hard at the schools out there for me."
"This Nebraska offer is great, though, because I know that if nothing else happens, I'll have an opportunity to play at a big-time program and most people can't say that."
"No matter what, though, I am excited about the future."