With the beginning of yet another NC State football season right around the corner, it feels as good a time as any to recap the career of one of the best players to ever sport the red and white. Torry Holt is undoubtedly the greatest wideout to ever come through the program, and his list of accomplishments throughout the years is second to none in NC State’s history.
Holt saw plenty of success throughout his career in the NFL as an integral piece of the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams, which wreaked havoc across the entire league. Those Rams squads saw team successes that Holt missed out on during his time at NC State, but rest assured, he never let that stop him from being great.
Holt’s four-year college campaign began in 1995 where he quietly came onto the scene in Raleigh. Despite appearing in 11 games on the season, Holt only reeled in 17 receptions for 261 yards and a single touchdown. Serving as more of a deep ball threat to better complement Mike Guffie, Jimmy Grissett and Greg Addis, Holt was far from the first option during his freshman season.
Even though Holt was not an instant star during his first season with the Pack, his ability to be great later on in his career was never in question. Coming into a wide receiver room that was already set in stone for the year, Holt carved out a nice spot for himself to be useful to the program on special teams. His 13 kick returns for 274 yards ranked him at No. 10 in the ACC for the respective stats during the 1995 season, and his 21.1 yards per kickoff return were good enough for Holt to land the No. 5 spot in the ACC his freshman year.
Holt managed to step into the No. 2 receiver role during his second season, finishing the year with the second most receptions on the team despite playing in only seven games. His 24 catches for 415 yards and three touchdowns were just a glimpse into what Holt could accomplish in a full 11-game season. His sophomore year served as a reassurance that he was here to play ball at the highest level. If anyone was uncertain of that following his second year, their doubts subsided quickly during his breakout junior campaign.
Holt took the ACC by storm in 1997, amassing 62 receptions for 1,099 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games. Just like that, he was a superstar. Holt dominated opposing corners in the ACC, comfortably moving into the No. 1 receiver role for a program that needed a change following consecutive 3-8 seasons in his first two years with the team.
His 1,099 receiving yards, 16 receiving touchdowns and 96 points were all good enough to rank first in the ACC for the respective statistical categories. Holt’s absurd number of receiving touchdowns also ranked third across the entirety of the NCAA. It would’ve been easy to think that this would be Holt’s peak year, posting numbers that many college receivers could only dream of, but this was only the beginning of what was to come from the all-time great.
What will always be one of the greatest seasons for a receiver in ACC history, Holt’s 1998 campaign was certainly one for the record books. Tallying 1,604 yards on 88 receptions with 11 touchdowns over 11 games, Holt solidified his position on NC State football’s Mount Rushmore. His receiving yard total was an ACC best and good enough for second in the NCAA for the ‘98 season. Holt also tacked on six rushes for 102 yards in his senior season, putting him at 1,706 yards from scrimmage which was also the highest in the ACC for that year.
Holt achieved on every level during his college career, leaving his name all over ACC record books despite not being a star for all four years of his stay in Raleigh. From being a borderline fourth option during his freshman season to being the 1998 ACC Offensive Player of the Year, the 1998 ACC Player of the Year, a 1998 Consensus All-American and the only wideout in NC State history to have their jersey retired, Holt is an inspiration to many and a healthy reminder that great things take time.
Holt was inducted into the NC State Hall of Fame in 2013 after an all-time great 11 year stay in the NFL. He saw no reason to slow down after leaving NC State for the NFL draft, becoming the 1999 St. Louis Rams Rookie of the Year, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All Pro selection. Holt would also hoist the Lombardi trophy in 2000 as a member of one of the NFL’s most fabled teams of all-time, “the Greatest Show on Turf.”
As Holt, his fans and enjoyers of the sport in general continue to wait on the Pro Football Hall of Fame to finally induct him following seven semi-finalist appearances since he became Hall-eligible in 2015, his greatness at all levels will never be overlooked. Whether or not Holt needed NC State as a vehicle for his football success will (fortunately) never be known, but what is for certain is that the Pack got its hands on one of the greatest to ever do it.