The Arizona Wildcats' recruiting class currently holds four defensive linemen for 2016, and today, we're breaking down Salpointe Catholic's Justin Holt. He enters the class as a 3-star, ranked 70th among all defensive tackles in the nation. Checking in at 6-0 295lbs, he will rival Sharif Williams as the biggest defensive tackle on the roster.
I stumbled upon Justin Holt's senior year highlights on Hudl, and really liked what I saw from the Tucson product. This got me thinking, that maybe there should be a new series for AZ Desert Swarm, breaking down and analyzing the senior highlight films of incoming Arizona commits. So, we'll see how this goes.
Going through this 8 minute highlight reel, there's really one word that describes Holt's game; smart. He constantly has his eyes up, focusing in on the quarterback's movements. That, in turn, helps him with his play recognition, and I feel like there's one play in particular that really stood out to me, showing off his entire skill set.
At about 1:02 in his video, Holt is lined up as a defensive end. He's engaged in his block, and sees the quarterback rolling out to his right. It looks like he's able to glance over into the flats, to see the running back split out. From there, he alerts his teammates to cover the flats, and disengages in his block to chase down the running back. Out towards the sideline, Holt catches the running back from about 12 yards out and flings him to the ground.
He does this again multiple times. At about 1:54, and 3:55, he sniffs out the screen plays, and immediately goes to chase down the running back, forcing the play back inside for little or no gain. Keeping his eyes up, and recognizing the offensive line shifting out and up, as well as the quarterback movements, he's able to keep himself in the play and make the stop.
There are two more plays, both read-option situations, that show his smarts once again, one occurring at about 6:34 and the other at about 8:00. We'll take a look at the former.
Holt contains this read-option play perfectly. He sees the running back has the potential to come away with the ball, and seals the edge, forcing the quarterback to keep it himself. Holt recognizes the keep, and converges on the quarterback for the tackle.
If there's one concern about Holt, it's his tackling. He's so much bigger and stronger than these high school kids, that a lot of his tackles seemed to be high arm tackles. He tends to just reach out with one arm, and proceeds to throw them down to the ground. In Pac-12 play, where the speed of the game is obviously much faster, and the tail backs are much bigger, that's not going to work nearly as well for him. He has the size already, and the high football IQ is there, so the tackling in the trenches should be able to be a quick fix for him at the next level.
This is a big guy we're talking about, and he'll likely be a big-time run-stopper, and in a 3-3-5 defense, he'll get doubled often. But his big body is all Arizona needs, and all Rich Rodriguez has wanted on the defensive line.