Wakulla High School free safety C.J. Holton seemingly understands that making the necessary adjustments in life begins- now. The 6-2, 198 junior known affectionately as “Hitstick” is taking a very proactive approach to establishing a solid foundation.
“I go to church every Sunday and Wednesday,” Holton said. “It’s not something that I’ve done all my life. I recently started going with one of my teammates, Derrick Wilson to First Baptist of Crawfordville. Everything is working out real good with that. The chaplain of our football team is the pastor there. That’s another thing that had led me in that direction. I need Him on my side to get to where I want to go. ”
“Me and Nigel (Bradham) talk a lot,” he added. “We look around and see guys getting into trouble. He keeps me up and I keep him up. I just learn from my surroundings. My Mom (Rosalind) raised me pretty good. My grandma (Rosa) also gives me good advice. I try to stay away from all that kind of foolishness. If I see trouble, I turn the other way.”
Holton and his best friend (Nigel Bradham) talk a lot about the present and what they hope to accomplish in the future. He is also working hard in the classroom, so that his collegiate options won’t suffer.
“I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I have like a 2.8 (GPA),” he said. “I’ve added up what my report card that I’m going to get on Thursday is and it’s a 3.2. That’s pretty good. It’s not genius level or anything like that, but it’s getting better…I’ll be taking the SAT in March.”
He has learned from watching others. His cousin, former Florida State star Sam McGrew lives just down the street. A few short years ago, Holton would walk home from football practice in middle school and stop to talk with McGrew, who offered sound advice on growing up the right way. He also listened to former Alabama player Al Donaldson, whose Dad coached Holton. He watched the way they carried themselves.
They were role models to the budding football star.
Holton has been a starter at Wakulla since the 10th grade. Each and every year he has manned the free safety position. This past year, he recorded 70 tackles, four interceptions, and seven passes broken up for first year War Eagles head coach Scott Klees.
He scored a touchdown on his only game at tailback during the 2006 campaign. It was a 65 yard run in a 47-27 victory over 1A state runner-up North Florida Christian. The War Eagles ran roughshod through the opposition for a 9-1 regular season record before losing in the 3A playoffs to eventual state runner-up Pensacola Pine Forest on the road.
So, how did he come up with the nickname “Hitstick”?
“That’s a name that Nigel (Bradham) gave me,” Holton said laughing. “We were playing Madden (video football game) and I had a few of those big hits in the game and everybody just started calling me that.”
He is a member of the Wakulla weight lifting team where he benches 275 and cleans 285. However, besides his ability to hit- Holton’s greatest attribute is his 4.45 speed. He has good hip movement and great feet.
“That (hitting ability) and my speed are the most important parts of the game,” he said. “I was always a fast person, but when I was younger I wasn’t much of a hitter. In high school, that just all came together. I was always bigger, but I never really knew how to use my body. But, I guess that I just grew into it. I don’t see myself growing into a linebacker. Most people think that. I play safety like a corner though. I have the moves and play real speedy.”
Holton hopes to attend the Nike camp, MSL camp, and a speed camp this summer.
“I’ve received offers from a few schools the past couple days,” he stated. “But, the schools that I’m interested in are Georgia, Miami, Florida, Ole Miss, and LSU. I haven’t really seen a college yet. I have offers from Ole Miss and LSU. The Florida coaches have told me that they like me, they have film of me, and they were interested. I really like Florida, but they haven’t offered me though.”
He’ll be working to secure more offers and working with Coach Klees and the Wakulla staff to improve his overall game for the next level. You can bet that he’ll also be imparting some of the wisdom passed down to him. His little brother Willie will play for the War Eagles JV squad this season. And Holton will quickly tell you that they’ll both need God to reach their goals.