Program Spotlight: Jon Holt
Can you imagine what football season is like at the Holt household?
How do mom and dad choose which game to travel to? What university t-shirt will they pull out of the closet? Who gets the remote at home?
For redshirt senior Jon Holt, it’s a way of life.
The Pack’s starting offensive tackle is the third of four members in his family to play college football. If that wasn’t astounding enough, he is one of three children in the family to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Older brother Joe played offensive guard at the University of Virginia and a younger brother, Jarrod, is now a left tackle at Duke. A fourth brother, Jake, is currently making a name for himself on both sides of the ball holding down duties at defensive end and tight end for Clearwater High.
The Holt’s athletic legacy began with father Joe Holt and his wife Abby, both of whom lettered in college athletics at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. Joe served as a solid right tackle on the football squad, while Abby, a two-sport standout, competed with the women’s tennis and women’s basketball programs. It was Abby, in fact, who started the family’s long-list of being tabbed as the top athlete at Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Fla. As a senior, Abby picked up Female Athlete of the Year honors, while three of her sons, Joe, Jon and Jarrod, each obtained the male accolade when it came time for them to walk across the Clearwater stage.
Despite three of the Holt boys maturing into standout recruits at the high school level, none of them played a single down of football before entering high school. Even with a history of competition in their own lives, the Holt parents never pressured their children into sports.
“Our parents never forced sports on us,” said Jon Holt. “We saw our parents do it, and when high school came along we all hopped on the boat.”
Early into Jon’s prep career, Joe became heavily recruited and it marked a pivotal change in Jon’s life. At that point he found the desire to establish the type of prep career that would make Division I football coaches salivate, much like they had done for his brother.
“Joe’s recruitment showed me that there was a bigger picture in football,” said Holt. “I was naïve about college football. I just wanted to play for fun, but once he started getting recruited, I wanted it too.
“At the time I was around 6’1” during my freshman and sophomore years of high school,” said Holt. “I wanted to get bigger and better because I was a small offensive lineman. I grew four inches going into my junior year and that just pushed me to put things into motion to see how I could get myself recruited.”
The hard work certainly paid off as Florida, South Florida, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Boston College and Stanford all came calling for his services. Jon chose the program with the hot, young gunslinger in Philip Rivers, and the coach with two national championship rings to showcase what he could do. Raleigh, N.C., would be his new home.
“All it took was to watch Philip Rivers,” said Holt. “That’s the type of quarterback you want to play for. The guy had it all. Vision, accuracy, leadership and command of the huddle. He was the total package.”
Aside from head coach Chuck Amato and Rivers, who was quickly emerging as one of the promising young quarterbacks in the country at the time, Holt felt comfortable and at home on a roster with a plethora of talent from his native Florida. So comfortable, in fact, that it became another family to him.
Another family. Another football tradition.
Since joining the Pack, Holt has seen the NC State football family experience a whirlwind of growth and progress with better talent, more exposure and several new million-dollar facilities. He remembers game day at Carter-Finley Stadium before the Murphy Center, Vaughn Towers, and the new end zone were all in place. He appreciates the growth of the football program and takes pride in its fan base.
“I can’t explain the feeling of running into that stadium with 60,000 people cheering you on,” said Holt. “We want to win so badly for our fans. We need them and we appreciate the support that they give us on every down of every game.”
Like any other traditional family, Holt has experienced both joyful and upsetting periods with the Wolfpack. He stood on the sidelines in Jacksonville, Fla., when the Pack shocked the nation on New Year’s Day 2003 by pounding college football’s most celebrated program, Notre Dame, at the Toyota Gator Bowl. He was also on the field in Charlotte, N.C. in 2004 when the red and white ended its season with a win over East Carolina and headed home for the off season without earning a bowl bid for the first time in five years.
“We felt awful about not getting to a bowl in 2004,” said Holt. “We gave it everything we had and left everything out on the field. As a football player, you don’t only want to win for yourself and your coaches. You want to represent your family, your university and your fans as winners. When we are winning games, Raleigh and the NC State campus go crazy. That’s the type of atmosphere we have here and that’s why we love playing here.”
Aside from team disappointment, Holt’s teammates and coaches have been there for him on a personal level as well. When Holt earned his first career start in a loss at Clemson in 2004 and picked up illegal motion penalties, his teammates and coaches offered support. Holt responded by working harder in practice and improved his in-game performance with each appearance for the rest of the season.
Much like watching his older brother ship off to college while still in high school, Holt has stood by as many of his football brethren have graduated to successful careers in the National Football League. Holt credits former Wolfpacker’s Sean Locklear and Chris Colmer with taking him under their wings and showing him the ropes when he first arrived in college. His friendship with Colmer is something that Holt still enjoys to this day.
“ When Colmer was down in Tampa and I would go home, we would hang out,” said Holt. “He’s helped me out a lot. He’s a really good offensive tackle and he has helped mold me into a much better player.”
Just as Colmer and Locklear passed off for new challenges, Holt will do the same at the end of this season. When he departs from NC State he will have five years of winning, and education under his belt, in addition to the many friends he has made along his tenure here. While Holt is thankful for his Wolfpack family of teammates, coaches, friends and fans, his heart calls him back to his parents and siblings for which he bestows credit upon for all of his accomplishments.
“My parents are the ones that have made everything possible,” said Holt. “They cultivated an atmosphere to help me become a better person and a better athlete. They gave their children a great home to grow up in and they have always done everything in their power to get us to where we are. They always focused on academics and never forced us into sports, which is why I think we all turned out to be so successful. Everything we’ve ever done, they’ve been behind us 110 percent. You can’t beat parents that support you like that.”