Menelik Holt now "Mr. Popular" around the country

Popularity is good. It lets you know that what or who you are is considered interesting or even positive by more than a few. If you are a high school football player, it's doubly-good, that meaning schools are interested in you from all over. It's funny, though, when after you have committed, that seems to be when you have suddenly become the most popular. Welcome to the world of Menelik Holt.

When San Diego prep-star Menelik Holt committed to Nebraska along with friend and future teammate quarterback Josh Freeman, well, he was definitely getting some attention.

Since that commit, though, the attention has only grown.

First, it was Colorado and New Mexico that ponied up with offers. After that, Texas Tech and Wisconsin followed suit. And most recently, the university of Kansas jumped in with theirs, all prompting an expected reaction:


Holt would be the first to say that he's flattered by the offers, but based on their timing and some of his unfamiliarity with the programs, curiosity looms as to what exactly they were thinking.

"It's great getting the offers, because it just lets you know that more teams are seeing what kind of player you are," Holt said. "But, with some of these, I have never talked to them, gotten a letter from them or anything and the first thing I get is this letter saying that I have an offer."

"It's an honor to get any offer, because there are guys that work their butts off that don't see any of this, but it's just weird how some of these come out of the blue."

It is logical to assume that due to the commit of Holt to the Huskers, that brought more attention on him than he might have otherwise had. Long has it been a strategy of many schools to do their own recruiting, but to pay some attention as to what other schools were doing as well.

Also and as Holt stated, even before he committed to play for the big red, there were some offers he figured he wouldn't see anytime soon as it was. "There are a lot of places and coaches that were telling me that they don't offer or wouldn't until they saw my first game," Menelik said. "I suppose if I let this thing play out, I might have seen some of those, like from Cal."

"But I really didn't want to wait that long anymore and between Josh and I, this just seemed like the time to get it out of the way."

The interesting part about the conversation obviously stemmed from the inevitable question one is posed to ask of a commit when they receive all of this additional attention. You know, the question that, even if you don't believe it, you still have to ask:

Is there a team out there that could make you change your mind about Nebraska?

Cal came up once again.

"I was thinking that if there was one school out there, it might be Cal, but when I think more about it, there's a couple of reasons I probably wouldn't go," Holt said.

"First, it's just a different kind of lifestyle there, something I don't think I'd like very much and the fact is, Cal has basically made their name over the last couple of years and Nebraska's still trying to get back up."

"I'd rather be part of a team getting better, knowing I had something to do with it, rather than being on a team that was already there." "Plus, I don't want to go to a place that's jam packed with receivers and I'm sitting for three years before I even get a chance to compete."

You don't have to ask any of the receivers on Nebraska's team now and those coming in what is expected of them. And you don't have to ask each how excited they are to have the opportunity to compete on a depth chart that is still virgin in its development.

Only one year removed from Bill Callahan taking over the team and instituting the "West Coast" offense, there's still a lot of transitioning taking place as far as personnel. That's what players like Chris Brooks saw when he committed to the Huskers last season. That's what Holt sees now. It's still an untamed frontier that this team is going on and he's more than happy to try and make his way to the lead wagon.

Even when I get there, it will be like only the first year they will have really ran this offense, because last year didn't work at all. You got these "option" guys, receivers included and you can't replace them all with one class."

"There's a lot of opportunities there for someone that is willing to work as hard as they have to, to get out there and that's what I plan to do."

There's another plan for Holt, one that fits within the realm of his team trying to do better this coming year. It's for him as a receiver to do better as well. Not just statistically, mind you, as everyone has those goals, but Holt has another goal, one that a former and future teammate achieved.

"I want to go to the All-American game," Holt said of the ever-growing annual US Army All-American Bowl. "I mean, you watch guys like Reggie Bush on TV out here and you expect him to go, but when a guy close to home like Jordan goes, it just hits you that it's possible."

"You want to know whatever it takes to get there, but I know that it's not all about just the best players either."

Holt would be referring to the politics, of course, a label that will forever find itself attached firmly to games such as this, that profess something so profound as being the home of THE best high school players in the country.

For Holt, part of him thinks that if he had a chance to compete in that game, it probably went out when the first rankings were released. "You think that it some minds, they already have their guys and nothing is probably going to change their mind," Menelik said. "They've got the stars and the hype and you basically know right now who's going to be playing in that game."

"I'd like to think that everyone still has a shot, though, because I don't know what I would do if they told me I was in that game. I think I'd probably cry when they told me and then just go crazy and destroy my room or something."

We all think and would like to think that these games are awarded to the players after their seasons are played. And, we would all like to think that those in it didn't make it on press clippings, rather what they did on the field and not during their junior year.

Holt is optimistic, though, somewhat about that game, but more about his up-coming season, because he has an idea how far he can go. "If you are willing to work, anything is possible," he said. "Look at Jordan (Congdon). I mean, he's athletic, but I know he's said at times that if he just had the athletic ability of another player, he could really show people something.

"And he could and I know this, because nobody worked harder than him. I know that if he was 6 foot, 3, ran really fast and jumped really high, he would be one of the best, because no matter how much work it took, he did it."

"I do have the advantage of having size and all that, but unless I work my butt off everyday, I won't get it done. That's what pushes me, because I know I can only get better."

Some schools are seeing that, apparently a little late; something only a smattering few saw from the beginning. And it's realistic that if the attention is growing now when he's not even playing, once he steps on the field, it will only continue to grow.

Does that mean the pressure grows on Holt himself; the pressure to stay close to home, go to a school with more recent success or just give in to any one of the many sales pitches he's bound to hear?

Not Holt, because he's got goals, but one of them can only get accomplished in Lincoln. "It's back to the top, where they used to be," Holt said of where he would like to see Nebraska while he's there. "I'm not saying national title in the first year, but they are getting the players that fit what they want to do and you know these guys can coach."

"If everyone out there gives everyone on that team some time, I know great things are going to happen. And I can't wait to be a part of that, just trying to do my part to help the team win."

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