December 14, 2009

Holt, West make homecoming on Holiday Bowl trip

The final game of senior wide receiver Menelik Holt's collegiate career couldn't be played in a more fitting location.

When Nebraska travels to San Diego to take on Arizona in the Holiday Bowl, the game will be played at Qualcomm Stadium - the same stadium Holt played his final high school game in the 2005 California Interscholastic Federation Division III championship.

So when the San Diego native heard the Huskers would be heading to his hometown for their bowl trip, it was to be expected that he would be a little more excited than others about the news.

Especially because his last football game there ended with his St. Augustine Saints taking home a state championship.

"It's funny, the last high school game I played was in that stadium and the last college game I'm going to play will be in that stadium," Holt said. "It's kind of coincidence, but I get to go back home, so I think it will be a great experience… I've been talking San Diego up for about four years, so I guess I've got to show some guys what it's all about.

"After the game, of course, we'll all celebrate and go downtown and see what it's like to be in a real club. I think it will be a nice experience, especially for some guys from smaller towns in Nebraska. They'll get a chance to see what a bigger city is like. Hopefully it's all they've dreamed of."

Holt won't the only player making a return home during NU's bowl trip. Junior cornerback Anthony West is also a San Diego native who was recruited to Lincoln out of Point Loma High School.

What's even more of a coincidence is that West's Point Loma team played Holt's St. Augustine squad in the '05 title game. West played strictly offense at the time, so the two never went head-to-head in the game.

Still, West said he's very familiar with the history of the Holiday Bowl, and like Holt said he's excited to return to his old stomping grounds.

"It's a good experience," West said. "It's obviously my home and where I'm from, so it will be good to go home and see all my friends and family and also be able to play in a game like that. Obviously we wanted to go to the Fiesta, but it's kind of cool to go back home.

"The history of the Holiday Bowl has always been good teams playing in it and good games played. The games down there always go down to the wire each time. I think it's a good competitive bowl."

The only problem with being a native of your team's bowl city is trying to fulfill the tidal wave of ticket requests from family and friends.

"My phone has just been off the hook ringing," West said. "I'm working on the ticket situation now trying to get as many as I need. I need a lot…a lot man. I'm just trying to get as many as I can."

Holt said he's dealing with the same ticket issues, but sounded confident in his chances of meeting all of the requests, even from those he hasn't talked to since grade school.

"I'm probably going to need about 100 tickets," Holt said. "People from fifth grade are hitting me up on Facebook asking for tickets. I'm going to find them. I don't know how I'm going to get them, but I'm going to find them."

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