FORT PAYNE — In two years, Ider senior Andy Holt went from playing in his first football game to signing an athletic scholarship.
Holt, who signed a national letter of intent to play football at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, last week, thrived in his role as a defensive lineman for the Hornets and turned it into an opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
Coming from a large school in Manchester, Tenn., Holt said he tried playing football in seventh grade. But the team was so crowded, he never got to take the field.
Holt was given a second shot at playing the sport when he and his dad moved to Ider two years ago. With Ider High School being considerably smaller than his previous school, Holt knew he wanted to give the Hornets his best.
“I gave it a chance and here I am,” Holt said in a phone interview with The Times-Journal on Monday.
Entering his senior season at Ider, Holt said the possibility of playing college football never crossed his mind.
“It never crossed my mind until the end of the football season when me and coach Keith got together and made a senior season highlight film,” Holt said.
Seeing Holt’s defensive talent and wanting to give him every opportunity to play in college, Ider football coach Miles Keith created an account for him on the athletic recruiting network app, FieldLevel.
“Andy is a competitor,” Keith said. “He plays as hard as he can every play. He improved every day and always had a great attitude. Off the field, Andy is a very light-hearted person and at times brought some much-needed levity to practice.”
Keith recommended Holt to several colleges from the app and attention started pouring in from colleges in California, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio.
Capital was one of the schools interested in bringing Holt into its football program.
Holt, his dad, Jay, and Keith traveled to Columbus, Ohio, together March 14 and visited the university.
Holt said Capital gave him the best scholarship money and made it the most affordable college experience among his options. He was also impressed with Capital’s physical therapy program, in which he plans to major.
Holt said the eight-hour drive between Ider and Columbus, Ohio, created some trepidation from his dad at first. But after a conversation with Capital’s defensive line coach Keith Rucker, there was some relief about the distance that would be between father and son. Rucker provided reassurance that he would watch after Holt and keep the lines of communication open.
“With my dad being concerned with me being so far away, coach Rucker told my dad that he would keep in touch. That conversation helped a lot,” Holt said.
In his senior season at Ider, Holt had one personal highlight that stood above the rest: catching a pass in a high school game.
Against eventual Class 2A state champion Fyffe, the Hornets designed a play where Holt would break free down the field and catch a pass.
Ider ran the play twice.
“I have those lineman hands and I missed the catch,” Holt said of the first attempt. “I bothered our coach to call it again. I wanted to catch a ball before I graduated; it was a big goal.
“It was called again. I ran out there, caught it and got hit by a safety. But I was just so happy. When I got up, I started jumping up and down. It was the time of my life right there. A great moment.”