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Justin Holt (6’2″ and 295 pounds) will bring some good size to Arizona’s nose tackle position starting in 2016 (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)
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Justin Holt’s decision to commit to Arizona today at the Lowell-Stevens Facility came with a few hugs and a lot of tears, mostly from his father Julius, a former standout Wildcat defensive player.
“I became so excited I had to go to the bathroom to cry, so he wouldn’t see that,” Julius told me about what happened after his son, a Salpointe Catholic defensive tackle standout, gave Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel his commitment.
“He told me I just want to stay home and do what I need to do. I asked him if he was sure and that if he makes a commitment, he must be firm with it. He was convinced Arizona is the right place for him.”
The younger Holt, 6’2″ and 295 pounds, was taking part in Arizona’s Junior Elite Day at Lowell-Stevens when he informed the Arizona coaches of his decision. A Class of 2016 prospect, he was recruited heavily by every Pac-12 school, including Oregon, which sent coaches on two occasions to visit him in the last month.
“I came to the conclusion that Arizona was my best opportunity to play,” Justin told me. “That was the bottom line. I want to come in and contribute. I know the coaches here at Arizona will take care of me. I have confidence in them.
“(Rodriguez) has a great coaching staff here. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to play for them.”
Julius Holt said he became enamored with Arizona’s coaching staff with how they made their presentation to his son today. The coaches explained his potential role and told him about his importance with the Wildcat program.
“It came down to Justin’s dialogue with Coach Casteel and (defensive line) Coach (Bill) Kirelawich,” Julius Holt said. “The good thing about Justin’s potential is he could play on both sides of the ball in college.
“He could play center or guard on offense. He understands that could happen. His focus though will be on the defensive side of the ball.”
The elder Holt, who played for Arizona from 1981 and 1982, said Arizona’s coaches view his son as a valuable player at nose tackle because of his size, strength and agility.
“The nose tackle they have right now is about 250 pounds (Parker Zellers), so they see Justin as an important player for them on the defensive line,” Julius Holt said.
Justin Holt said he envisions himself with a program that will challenge Oregon and the rest for Pac-12 titles consistently.
“Each year, (Rodriguez) has improved the program,” he said. “I loved the atmosphere and how people work there. The program is on the way up.”
The elder Holt had an idea his son might commit to Arizona when Justin talked with his mother and grandmother last night. The conversation turned emotional when he talked to his grandmother on the phone.
“I could sense he was about to commit because his grandmother started crying,” Julius Holt said. “His grandfather passed away two years ago. He would have loved to see him play at Arizona.
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“It’s just a special time right now. We’re all so proud of him.”
Justin Holt is headed for Los Angeles tonight to participate in the Nike Football Opening Regionals tomorrow. He can now participate in these elite camps with the focus primarily on improving and not worrying about where to play in college.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “I’m ready to work as hard as possible and do what I need to do to reach my potential at Arizona.”