Oct. 24, 2003
By Jesse Christensen
Sports Information Student Assistant
As a father, all-conference candidate and spokesman for the Utah Football Leadership Committee, Ray Holdcraft may be one of the most distinguished athletes on the Ute roster this season. Most who know the senior middle linebacker admit he is one of a kind and a critical element to Utah's dominating defense.
"Ray Holdcraft is the type of person you live to coach for," says Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham. "As a person, there isn't enough I can say about him. He is a fantastic and solid individual. Ray is an all-around complete person in all aspects of his life. Players like Ray are the reason why I coach football."
Although still early in the season, Holdcraft has already managed to record 31 total tackles in Utahıs four games played ranking him second on the team. His total tackle numbers for the year should be significant at the rate he's going.
Holdcraft was originally scheduled to redshirt his first season at Utah. "My decision to scrap my redshirt season was primarily to help the team win," says Holdcraft. "My goal was to help the team in any way possible. Coming in with the conference games on the line was a good learning experience. I don't regret making that decision, plus we beat BYU so everything worked out."
In his first NCAA game against Air Force, Holdcraft finished with seven tackles and one interception. Following the performance against the Falcons, the linebacker contributed with seven tackles and one pass breakup in the Utes' loss to San Diego State.
His overwhelming presence helped him grab 31 total tackles (4.4 tackles per game), which was sixth on the team. And if that wasn't enough, he also added one tackle for loss, one sack and one interception to his already impressive slate of accomplishments.
"Ray is a very good inside linebacker and maybe the best in the Mountain West Conference," says Whittingham. "He is very athletic with great eye-hand coordination. He is extremely quick, which I donıt think most people realize. Ray is always there when you need him and is a huge part of our defense."
Prior to Utah, Holdcraft made a name for himself stopping opposing offenses within the junior college ranks. Holdcraft began playing at Ricks Junior College in 2000 and later transferred to Palomar J.C. in 2001. While at Palomar, the all-conference team captain led the Comets to the Southern California championship. After the 2001 season was completed, the Newport News, Va., native was named first-team juco All-American by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.
Standing at 5' 11" and a sturdy 242-pounds, the soft-spoken senior would like nothing more this season than to take home the MWC Championship. "Personally, I want to win the conference and help continue to make our defense the best in the league," says Holdcraft. "Becoming both a team and defensive leader is one of my main goals this season."
Although intimidating on the field, the hard-hitting Holdcraft is just as fierce in the kitchen. "I love to cook, but my wife will tell you I don't do it often enough," laughs Holdcraft. "I'm always telling my wife that I wish I had gone to culinary school. Baking cakes has always been fun for me. My mother was involved in decorating cakes when I was young and I enjoyed helping her."
To no surprise, the food savvy Holdcraft found the love of his life at where else, but a barbecue. After 10 months of dating, Ray proposed to the former Lauren Thompson and the two were married on Jan. 13, 2001. "She is an awesome supporter," says Holdcraft. "Basically, she helps me keep going in the pursuit of my goals. Our schedules are both really hectic, but we always find time to be together."
With an array of accolades, the accomplishment Holdcraft is most proud of is the birth of his two children. "I sure don't get enough sleep with those two around," jokes Holdldcraft. "They are a handful, but they are a great inspiration to me." Holdcraft admits that his daughter Taelor, age two, and son "Little Ray", age four months, are the motivation he needs both on and off the field. "Seeing their faces after practice makes it all worth it," remarks Holdcraft. "Taelor is my girl and she is starting to speak, which is really exciting. My little boy, Ray, is a blessing to us and a constant reminder of how lucky we are."
It appears Holdcraft has achieved perfection off the field. Now Ute fans get to watch his journey as he strives for it on the field. With a bright and promising future ahead, the senior linebacker is the true definition of what it takes to be an all-around complete person.