As the 2013 Baldwin Wallace football team prepared for today’s season opener at Bluffton, Midview graduate Josiah Holt focused on what he had to do between the lines and tried not to pay attention to the accolades that rolled in.
Holt is a Division III All-America candidate and is on the Ohiofootball.com All-Ohio first team. Following his junior season he earned first-team All-Ohio Athletic Conference accolades as a wide receiver after being named to the first team as a kick returner as a sophomore.
Following his senior season with the Middies, Holt heard the talk.
“He’s too small for Division I,” people said.
“He isn’t big enough.”
“He would get destroyed at a big-time program.”
Those words stung, and Holt arrived in Berea with a chip on his shoulder.
“I heard those remarks before from people, and it used to bother me,” he said. “I learned how to just brush it off and not pay attention to it. I’m glad
I’m here at Baldwin Wallace and have loved being a part of this program, but in my freshman year I did come into camp to try to prove some people wrong ... to show what I could do.
“I wasn’t negative in any way and I wanted to come in and make an immediate impact. I knew to do that I would have to earn my spot and be positive.”
Not only did Holt earn his spot, being elevated to the varsity early in his freshman season, he has gone on to become the kind of student-athlete 12th-year Yellow Jackets coach John Snell values.
Holt caught 41 passes for 642 yards (15.7 yards per catch) and five touchdowns last year. He also carried the ball 36 times for 251 yards and two touchdowns and returned 13 kickoffs for a 25.8 yards average.
“Josiah is an exceptional talent, a guy that slipped through the cracks, I think, in terms of higher levels,” Snell said. “We worked really hard to get him to come to BW, and when he’s healthy and playing to the best of his ability he can be a difference-maker.
“I’m hopeful he will have a great senior season and be able to do the things he’s capable of, because those things are pretty special.
“He was a unanimous selection as a captain and our kids have really embraced him as one of our leaders. He’s a guy that steps to the front and isn’t afraid to say things ... just an exceptional leader.”
Holt was one of the top running backs in the area at Midview, twice earning first-team All-West Shore Conference and All-Ohio honors following his junior and senior seasons. During his senior season he rushed for 1,258 yards and 16 touchdowns.
When he arrived at Baldwin Wallace, however, he was thrust into a new role when senior starting wideout Jon Meyers was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
It was a process, and it took Holt some time to feel comfortable.
“I was a running back in pee wee and high school, and here I’ve played receiver,” Holt said. “The first couple of years there was a transition while I tried to learn the footwork and the lingo of the position.
“Last year I kind of came into myself as a receiver. For the first time I was 100 percent comfortable, so this year I hope I can take the transition even further than that. It’s been a growing experience and has been fun along the way.”
Yellow Jackets offensive coordinator Keith Grabowski thinks Meyers, who helped Holt with the transition to receiver, set an example that Holt took to heart on and off the field.
“Jon Myers, who is a coach now at Nordonia, really coached Josiah up,” said Grabowski, who coached at Amherst before moving to the college ranks.
“(Josiah’s) done a great job of being a leader out there, helping the young guys and being a good teammate.”
The leadership role was a different kind of challenge for Holt.
“I’ve grown a lot off the field. I was never a big talker in high school, and in my first couple of years here I became a very vocal leader,” Holt said. “Being selected as a captain was a huge honor for me. I was very glad to hear my teammates looked at me like that and wanted me in that position.
“I used to lead by example, not saying too much. Now, if I see you doing something that is not good for this program I have no hesitation to call you out.
That’s because of the pride I have. I’m proud to play for Baldwin Wallace. I’m proud of my teammates. Any time I see someone, on or off the field, that disrespects that it angers me.
“And I think a lot of people know that when I do say something I 100 percent mean it and will completely back up what I say.”
Holt has one more season to make Division III defensive coordinators nervous. After that, Holt has his dreams … dreams he isn’t really ready to focus on yet. When asked about the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Holt admitted he’s thought about it.
“That’s such a faraway place,” he said. “I’d be lying if I say I haven’t thought about it and it’s a goal that I think is realistic for me at this point, but I still have a full season to worry about. I’m focused on the now. I’ve thought about it here and there. I try to keep those thoughts out of my head and focus on this team and its goals as opposed to what I’m trying to do.”
Baldwin Wallace missed the Division III playoffs after a 7-3 record last season. With Grabowski on staff recruiting, the team has a strong presence of players from Lorain County and the surrounding area.
Area players joining Holt are Nolan Brandt (Olmsted Falls), Nick Cooper (Columbia), Nathan Ferster (Olmsted Falls), Brandon Friedrich (Olmsted Falls), Sam Ibrahim (North Olmsted), Julian Jackson-Ross (Midview), Kevin Krakora (Avon), Alex Lovasz (North Ridgeville), Patrick Moran (North Olmsted), Jake O’Connor (Black River), Kyle Ohradzansky (Avon/Canton McKinley) and Brok Smith (North Olmsted).
Contact Mike Perry at 329-4135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Baldwin Wallace vs. Bluffton
TIME: 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Dwight Salzman Stadium, Bluffton