Bowling Green, Ky. - A familiar face returns to the sidelines for the Western Kentucky University football team as Stu Holt comes back to the Hill as the tackles and tight ends coach. Holt replaces A.J. Pratt, who left the staff last month to pursue other opportunities.
Holt served on the Hilltopper coaching staff for six seasons (2003-09), and spent the 2010 season as the running backs coach at Tennessee State.
"I'm excited that we were able to bring Coach Holt back into our football program," said head coach Willie Taggart. "Having worked with him for three seasons, I know the passion he has for WKU and Hilltopper football. Stu had a big hand in the success of our running game, and I have no doubt that will translate well to working with our offensive linemen."
Holt also oversaw the running back during his first stint at WKU, and was the special teams coordinator in 2005 and 2009. He coached a pair of 1,000 yard rushers. Lerron Moore finished his career as the Hilltoppers' career leader in rushing yardage (4,396) and Tyrell Hayden's 1,134 yards in 2007 marked the tenth-best single season total in school history.
In his first season with the program, Holt's unit helped the Toppers rush for an average of 226.17 yards per contest (a figure that ranked 14th in the nation) while compiling 35 touchdowns. Moore was a second-team all-Gateway Conference selection and Brian Porter was a member of the league's All-Newcomer Team under his direction. He also was instrumental in the signing of Jake Gaebler, who finished his career as WKU's all-time leader in receptions.
As coordinator of the special teams in 2005, Holt helped the Hilltoppers rank fourth in the nation in punt returns (16.1 avg.). His direction helped placekicker Chris James to be named first-team I-AA.org All-Star and all-Gateway after pacing the league with 1.36 field goals and 7.91 points per contest, and Dennis Mitchell was a second-team all-conference choice as a return specialist after finishing sixth in the country with an average of 16.13 yards per punt return. The Toppers were fourth nationally as a team in punt returns.
In 2009, he coached four players that ranked in the top five of Sun Belt Conference statistical categories, including Jeremy Moore and Bobby Rainey who led the league in punting and all-purpose yardage, respectively. The Hilltopper kickoff return unit also ranked second in the league and 53rd nationally.
"WKU has been a special place to our family for a long time. I'm more than thrilled to be back on the Hill with Coach Taggart and the rest of our football family," said Holt. "The opportunity to help lead our student-athletes to success is one that we cherish immensely. We're committed to the challenge of getting WKU Football to the top of the Sun Belt Conference."
Holt was the head coach at New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) High School two seasons (2002-03) prior to coming to WKU, earning regional coach-of-the-year honors in 2002.
He has prior collegiate experience as well. He was the inside linebackers and specialists coach at Bethune-Cookman in 2001. In 2000, Holt worked with the defensive line and special teams at Cumberland (Tenn.). Holt was a graduate assistant - working with the defensive line and adding recruiting coordinator duties - at Western Carolina during the 1998 and 99 seasons, where he earned his master's in education administration in 2000.
He started in the coaching ranks at Norwich (Vt.) University coaching linebackers and specialists in 1996, and also worked at Mainland (Fla.) High during the 1997 season as running backs coach. He also taught English at Mainland and New Smyrna Beach.
Holt earned his bachelor's degree from North Carolina in 1995, where he lettered in football each of his final two seasons in Chapel Hill. During his four years with the Tarheels, Holt played in four bowl games - the Peach Bowl (1992), Gator Bowl (1993), Sun Bowl (1994) and Carquest Bowl (1995).