Senior Day Special for Holt Family, as Father and Son Get One Last Game Together
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Saturday's final home game will be a special moment for each senior on this year’s Purdue team, but even more so for one player in particular — Ben Holt.
Holt, a graduate transfer linebacker from Western Kentucky, will take the field for the last time in his short stint with the Boilermakers, and the emotions are expected to be high. That's because Ben will take the field for the last time with his father, Nick Holt, by his side.
Nick Holt is part of the Boilermakers coaching staff as a co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. This has been a special season for the Holt family, with Nick getting to coach Ben for one last time.
“It’s been special in that regard,” Nick Holt said. “It’s been one of those years where it’s been tough with all the stuff that’s happened, but there’s a silver lining in all this. There’s been some really cool things that have happened.”
It’s been a special season on the field for Ben, as well. Coming in, there was no doubt that Ben was top-notch linebacker after he led Western Kentucky in tackles and earned All-Conference USA honorable mention in 2018.
But after an early-season injury to Markus Bailey, Purdue’s best linebacker, Ben Holt has been forced to step in as Purdue’s leader on defense in his first season in the Big Ten. He’s answered that challenge and some.
Heading into the final game of the season against Indiana, Ben ranks second in the Big Ten in tackles and is tied for 15th in the nation with 104 tackles. Of those 104, 59 have been solo tackles, an impressive number at the Big Ten level.
Not only has Ben played outstanding football all season, but it took no time for him to prove himself as the go-to guy after Bailey’s injury. The following week, he put up one of the best performances by a Purdue linebacker in the past 25 years. Facing a dynamic TCU offense, Ben recorded 17 tackles, the most by a Purdue linebacker since 1997.
"There's no doubt he has taken more of a leadership role now that some of our older guys are out," Nick Holt said. "He was feeling his way when he first got here in the summer. He was getting to know the kids, and they were getting to know him.
"But I think he's earned their respect, and now he's become a leader and it's like he's been here the whole time. He likes the guys and the guys like him, and he has taken over that role of being a leader."
Saturday, Ben gets one last hurrah in front of the Purdue crowd and a chance to keep the Old Oaken Bucket in West Lafayette for the third consecutive year. Purdue’s bowl hopes may be gone, but there’s still a lot for Purdue to play for— the rivalry, the Old Oaken Bucket, and senior day.
A win would surely makes things better, but it should be a special day at Ross-Ade Stadium for each senior regardless, including Ben. His dad will be there, not only as a proud father but as his defensive coordinator.
"Especially after hopefully we play well and get a win," said Nick Holt. "Yes, it’s pretty special. Maybe afterward when it's all said and done, you get a little choked up about it. We’re here to just do our job, enjoy the moment and have fun."