From Skinny to Big-Time

Austin Holt, the 6-5, 220-pound tight end prospect from South Jordan (Utah) Bingham, has gone from a skinny unknown to now being mentioned among the top prospects in the class of 2008. Holt talks about it, the recruiting process, and the schools showing him early interest...

In the fall of 2005, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham tight end Austin Holt was a scrawny 6-5, 205 pounds, with only three receptions his sophomore year.

A few months later, at the U.S. Army All-American Combine in San Antonio, Holt began to turn some heads, showing as one of the top two tight ends at the combine amidst a field that included several juniors who would in turn receive major scholarship offers.

Then at the Combine in Los Angeles last spring, in a field that included Nate Chandler, Da'John Harris, Eric Brooks, Devin Mahina and David Paulson, all owners of big-time offers, it was Holt who again stood out, making the all-Combine first team.

Up to 220 pounds and now with all of the confidence in the world, Holt is beginning to show why he is projected to be one of the top tight end prospects nationally in the class of 2008.

Holt already has offers from home-state schools BYU and Utah, but plenty of other schools have been filling his mailbox. "Since September 1st, mail is coming from every which way," said Holt. "I've gotten a lot of stuff from Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame has sent me a lot of stuff, and, of course, BYU has been sending me a lot of stuff. I'm going up with my dad and taking a trip to Oregon to see UCLA play Oregon, that should be a lot of fun."

The Ducks have a familiar face on their staff recruiting Holt, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, who used to be the head coach at BYU. "We went to the Nike Camp at Oregon in May and my dad called Coach Crowton and we went up a day early to tour the campus and see the facilities," said Holt.

Stanford, Cal, Washington and Florida are a few of the other schools who have been expressing interest in Holt.

Despite all of the early attention, Holt isn't making too much of it, knowing that he still has a long way to go between now and Signing Day in February of 2008. "I'm just trying to get my junior season in and do everything I can with my high school. I want to focus on this junior season because our team could do some things," said Holt.

Bingham is 6-0 and the top-ranked team in the state in the 5A class. In a ground-geared offensive game, Holt has only caught nine passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, but has helped the Miners rush for 241 yards a game, thanks to a more refined blocking aspect to his game.

"We got a new coach who played for Kentucky and the 49ers and he is helping us with our offensive line," said Holt. "He has helped me tremendously with my footwork and every day working with him, I've gotten better at blocking. Being a receiver, I always want the ball thrown to me, but with good running backs, we're good at running the ball."

Holt showed at each of the camps that he could make the tough catch and that he had excellent hands, so if anything, the running offense that Bingham utilizes is helping show he's more of a complete tight end. The combines and camps also hepled to elevate his confidence.

"There is definitely a big, big jump from last year when I was just a little sophomore," said Holt. "I can feel a difference, more confidence. I really think going out with all of this competition, with the Army, Scout, Nike, with everything, brought to the season a confidence that I can do it there. It brings a smile when I was mentioned with them. It was kind of neat to go against the players that I've never played against in Utah, guys being recruited back east, to go and play against them."

Included in that was a mention in a preseason magazine where he was named one of the top 25 juniors in the nation. "Yeah, that was a real surprise," said Holt. "My dad brought a magazine home, it was probably 11 p.m., and I see Jimmy Clausen, see all these people, then I see my name. I read over it to make sure it wasn't a different one."

For a kid from Utah, where allegiances to the in-state programs are typically strong, Holt is keeping all of his options open, looking at schools throughout the country. "It would be awesome to go to a BCS school, the Pac-10, Big 12 and it would be kind of different," said Holt. "Not a lot of people get that chance but it would be real neat."

Especially if that school is one with the history of Notre Dame. "Oh yeah, that was real neat hearing from them," said Holt. "I got a couple of letters from the get-go, a chance to get game tickets. My dad and I are going to try and go back there and watch a game. That's a program that you kind of think of when you think football."

Another factor for Holt is how the schools use their tight ends. "Schools that focus on their tight end, I want to go where they have a tight end emphasis," said Holt.

But with 17 months until he can sign a letter of intent, there is no hurry coming from Holt. "I don't know, I haven't really thought about that kind of stuff," said Holt. "It's been going through my head so I'll just play it by ear and make a decision when I'm ready. I'm going to enjoy it, not let it get hectic, enjoy it while it lasts. This is the only time of your life you get to experience it."

Academically, Holt will be in fine shape, holding a 3.9 GPA and scoring a 20 on the ACT. He will take the SAT for the first time in the spring.

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