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APSU Hall of Fame Inductee Terrence Holt: The Greatest Game Changer

 

Written by Brad Kirtley
APSU Sports Information Director Emeritus

Austin Peay State University Sports - APSU - Governors - Lady GovsClarksville, TN Brad Kirtley, who was Austin Peay’s Sports Information Director from 1984-2016 and is himself a Hall of Fame inductee, takes a look back at this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, beginning with Terrence Holt…

It was the final game of the 2007 season. The Governors seemingly had the road contest in hand, leading 17-10 at Murray State late into the fourth quarter after forcing eight turnovers.

But the Racers avoided mistakes for one of the few times all day and drove 80 yards to tie the game with a little more than two minutes left. The home team certainly would have the momentum if overtime occurred, especially with some of the Govs’ offensive personnel hampered by injury.

APSU Hall of Fame Inductee Terrence Holt. (APSU Sports Information)

In APSU’s first year back in the Ohio Valley Conference after returning to scholarship football, the opportunity for seven wins and a possible third-place league finish now was in serious jeopardy.

After the Racers score, the Governors were anticipating almost any type of short kickoff, the pop-up variety or a rolling one downfield. They were certain the Racers would not kick it deep to Terrence Holt, preventing the dynamic freshman kick returner a chance to flip the field.

Whether accident or not, the Racers shocked the Governors and Holt by kicking the ball somewhat long and high to the APSU 20. Holt was there to haul it in. He dodged a couple of tacklers, zig-zagged away from a few more and looked up to see the right sideline was all his. No one was going to catch him as Governors fans leaped to their feet as the blur raced for the winning TD. Racers fans, just minutes earlier feeling exultation, now sat stunningly quiet. The victory allowed the Govs their first seven-win season since 2002 and first as a scholarship program since 1984.

Terrence HoltQuite simply Holt was the greatest game changer in Austin Peay football history and he will be honored, February 17th, 2018, by being inducted into APSU Athletics Hall of Fame in a 9:00am, breakfast. Later that day, Holt, along with other inductees, will be introduced at halftime of the Governors basketball game against Jacksonville State.

Standing a mere 5-7 and 160 pounds when he was a prep star at Maplewood High School in Nashville, Holt drew little interest from colleges, despite putting up spectacular numbers eluding big guys and outrunning smaller defenders. His only scholarship offer came from Austin Peay and he parlayed it into an unmatched Governors career.

It would be easy to say the 2007 Murray State game was Holt’s coming out party…but that would be a stretch. In fact, the first time Holt touched a football at Austin Peay he returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown against Bethel (he also had a 50-yard return later in the game). That began a record-setting career for a school that had little semblance of a kick-return game in the previous two decades.

Holt was named to the OVC All-Newcomer team as a freshman and then earned All-OVC as kick return specialist for the next three seasons.

He left Austin Peay with the top four single-season kickoff yardage return marks and in doing so became the first player in NCAA/FCS history to tally four 1,000-yard kickoff returns seasons. In addition to setting the OVC record for career and single-season returns yards, he also attained the mark for single-game return yards with 250 on seven kickoff returns at North Dakota State in 2008.

In a game that was dominated by the home team, Bison fans were nearly incredulous of the North Dakota State staff for continuing to kick to Holt, who consistently provided the Govs with terrific field position. To put it in perspective, while Holt had 250 kickoff return yards, the Governors offense managed just 91 all game against one of FCS’s best defenses.

Holt also departed APSU with a school-record six kick returns touchdowns-four kickoff and two punt returns.

As a junior in 2009 Holt averaged 215.7 all-purpose yards per game, which was the best in all of FCS. He was the OVC touchdown leader that year scoring 15 total touchdowns. Remarkably, he finished the season with 200 or more all-purpose yards in every single game.

The College Sporting News named the Nashville native as its first-team all-purpose back on the 2009 FCS Fabulous Fifty All-American Team. He also was named second-team FCS All-America all-purpose back by The Sports Network.

As a senior, he again was named to the College Sporting News Sweet 63 Football Championship Subdivision All-America team as a return specialist. He also was named an Elite Kick Return Specialist by the College Football Performance Awards.

Holt averaged almost 11 yards per punt return for his career and 24.5 yards per kickoff return as teams each season found more and more ways to totally kick away from him or offer him little chance for return. Entering 2017, he still was the NCAA career record holder for kickoff return yards (4,683); career single-game average kickoff return yards (106.4); most total [punt and kickoff] kick returns (241); most total kick return yards (5,230); most single-game kick-return yards average (118.9).

He was the 2009 NCAA Annual Champion in all-purpose yardage (2,373), 22nd most in FCS history. His 7,512 career all-purpose yards ranks seventh all-time in FCS history while his 170.7 all-purpose yards per game ranks 14th all time.

Whew…absorbing all that, all those extraordinary numbers, is almost mind-numbing. It demonstrates Holt was more than just a kickoff return specialist. In fact, because of his smallish size, Austin Peay played Holt at wide receiver as a freshman. Knowing how explosive he was with the ball was in his hands, the Govs coaching staff shifted him back to his familiar running back spot as a sophomore. Each offseason Holt dedicated himself in the weight room to better handle the position’s rigors—he played his senior season at almost 190 pounds.

As a result, Holt helped Austin Peay develop one of the OVC’s most feared running games over his last two seasons. In fact, he was named All-OVC as a running back in 2009, joining teammate and running back mate Ryan White as first-team choices—Holt earned second team as a senior. He finished with more than 1900 career rushing yards, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt, and 23 TDs, including 21 in his last two seasons.

Holt was named Austin Peay’s 2007-08 Legends Award recipient as the most valuable senior athlete. It was a culmination of spectacular career perhaps only Holt knew was coming. In a sense, he borrowed what the late theologian James Freeman Clarke once said: “I do small things in a great way.”

Holt, Erik Barnes and Bob Swope will become the 119th, 120th and 121st members of the APSU Athletics Hall of Fame during the annual Hall of Fame induction breakfast, 9:00am, February 17th, 2018 in the Dunn Center front lobby. They will be introduced during halftime of that night’s men’s basketball contest against Jacksonville State.

For more information about the Hall of Fame breakfast and reservations contact Tara Pfeifler by phone (931.221.6119) or email ().


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