Even as Austin Holt has remained publicly committed to BYU ever since he committed to the Cougars only a week after the ink dried on last year's recruiting class, the 4-star tight end from South Jordan (Utah) Bingham High School has kept his college options open. Since the commitment, he has crisscrossed the country making visits to Stanford, Florida, and UCLA. Over the course of the year he has continued to receive high interest from those suitors as well as from BYU.
"You know, I'm committed to BYU right now," Holt says in explaining the status of his recruitment. "I'm still getting phone calls. I get calls every week from Stanford and UCLA. Those are the ones that have kept on recruiting."
As Stanford and UCLA continue to pursue Holt, the talented tight end is keeping the door open on all his options. In fact, with his senior season of football now over, Holt is preparing a return trip to Palo Alto, which will be his third since committing to BYU.
"I'm actually headed to Stanford this next weekend when they play Notre Dame," Holt reveals. "My parents are coming up with me. I'm excited about that."
The post-Thanksgiving trip will afford Holt and his parents an opportunity to further assess Stanford as a potential college destination. For his part, Austin Holt says his ultimate college decision will focus "on the whole thing, which basically means academics."
"That's how my dad and my parents have raised me, through academics, so you know I want to look at academics," Holt continues. "But I've also got to look at the football. I want to have fun in college and play really well and play early. I just want to try to achieve all those things. That's pretty much what I'm looking for right now."
As Holt does his due diligence in evaluating his college options, coaches and fans from BYU, Stanford, and UCLA will all eagerly await the next developments in his recruitment. Ranked by Scout.com as the #4 tight end and #64 overall prospect in the entire nation, the 6'6" 235-pound Holt will provide some college with an enticing blend of pass-catching and blocking acumen.
Holt burst on to the national recruiting scene with a string of combine performances that showcased his excellent hands and strong blocking ability. After nearly garnering all-combine recognition as a sophomore at the U.S. Army All-American Combine, Holt returned to the prestigious event in January as a junior and took home top honors. In addition, he was named the top tight end at the Scout.com combine in Los Angeles for two consecutive years, the first year beating out highly-touted older prospects like USC's Da'John Harris and UCLA's Nate Chandler.
Based on those performances, Holt developed a reputation as a well-rounded tight end with multiple skills. It is a characterization he does not dispute, calling himself "all-around, a tight end."
"I know a lot of coaches have talked, you know, that there are good tight ends that can catch and different kind of tight ends that can block, but I think that I have strength on both of them." Holt reflects. "I think the thing about me is that I can do both things pretty well."
In addition to a balanced skill set that has been well-documented in past reviews on his style of play, Holt believes his well-roundedness stems from his versatility in the Bingham offense.
"I was moved around on our offense a lot," Holt explains. "I was a tight end, of course. I was flexed out as a receiver. I was a fullback actually for a little bit, a running back, too. I just was moved around, which I think was really good for me. I got to see everything that's part of football."
Bingham's recently completed season, which ended with a 21-17 loss to Alta High School in the state semifinals last weekend in a rematch of last season's Utah state championship game, provided plenty of evidence supporting their star tight end's reputation of being an all-around tight end. Blocking for a run-dominated team that rushed for over 250 yards per game in the 13-game season, Holt cemented blocking credentials he began to earn as a junior for an offense that produced 220 yards per game on the ground. Moreover, despite Bingham's reliance on the run, Holt's receiving skills shone through as he led the team in receiving with 29 catches, 6 of which went for touchdowns. His 490 receiving yards were good for a 16.9 yard per catch clip.
Despite Holt's individual success as a receiver and the success of the running game for which he blocked, the Bingham season ended in relative disappointment as the defending state champions could not get past Alta and claim another crown. Nonetheless, Holt enjoys a certain peace of mind in knowing that he went out how he wanted to.
"It was kind of hard, definitely, to end my high school career," Holt admits. "But we talk a lot about going out with no regrets. I think I played really well in that game. I caught two balls, the two balls that were thrown to me. And I blocked really well. The championship game was sad but I really felt that I went out with no regrets. I'm happy about that and that I left everything out on the field."
Holt also takes particular pride in personal improvement in his level of play from last season to this season.
"As far as this season, I did better than my last season," Holt relates. "It's always better to do better in the season than the one you were in before."
With his strong season playing for arguably the top program in Utah as well as a track record of standout performances at the U.S. Army All-American Combine the past two years, Holt was a natural selection for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on January 5. The game, which will showcase the top college-bound prospects from across the country, will be nationally televised on NBC.
"That was kind of a cool thing to happen," Holt acknowledges. "I'm starting up basketball right now, but I get to go in January and be able to play in that game, so I'm pretty excited."
"It's really kind of a blessing that I get to go out and do this," Holt expands. "It's been my goal since my sophomore year when I went and watched these guys play in Texas. It was a goal I wanted to try to get to, to go play in this game. When it was announced that I was going to play, it was kind of like a dream come true. I was pretty happy."
As Holt mentions, his time between now and the game in January will largely be spent focusing on basketball. He looks forward to getting one final chance to play basketball before becoming exclusively a football player at the next level.
"I have a week off before basketball season starts so it's kind of good to be able to have a little bit of a break going into the season," Holt says. "I'm getting pumped up. I'm just getting ready for basketball. I'm focused on basketball. I want to do the best I can. This will be the last time I ever get to play basketball, ever, so I want to do well in that."
In addition to focusing on his recruitment and his final season of basketball, Holt remains an excellent student. When he spoke with The Bootleg in June, he reported a 3.9 GPA and discussed his progress on the Stanford application process, with a particular eye toward retaking the ACT in the fall. Now in the midst of the fall, Holt has taken that step.
"I just took the ACT in October, so we're just going to wait on what comes out of that," Holt divulges.
He is also taking a serious load of senior year classes, avoiding the temptation that might befall other elite football prospects armed with the security of major college football scholarship offers.
"I'm taking pretty hard classes compared to what a normal high school senior in my scenario I think would be taking," Holt shares. "I'm taking Pre-Calculus, college prep English, Physics, and AP Psychology. My classes are pretty tough. The other ones are just my football class and my lifting class. In my opinion, my classes are tough. I like them."
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