Cougars looking at Californian twin brothers

Alijah Holder

BYU is taking a closer look at twin brothers from Oceanside High School in Southern California. These brothers have been receiving quite a bit of offers and attention from colleges, including BYU.

One of the twins, Alijah Holder, plays defense.

"I'm 6'1", 170 pounds," said Alijah. "My primary position is defensive back and my secondary position is safety. For safety I do well with reading the quarterback. I'm able to keep my eyes on them and read his drop step. We play most a cover-three, so I'm able to read the quarterback's drop step really well. That's probably one of my strong points as a DB. I got four interceptions this past year, but I don't know how many tackles I had last year though."

Meanwhile, his twin brother Mikah plays on the other side of the ball.

"I'm 6'1", 170 pounds and I play wide receiver," said Mikah. "That's my main position, but I can also play a secondary position. At Oceanside, they want us to learn all the defensive positions in case they need help. For me, I think the receiver position is the better position for me because of how technical we have to be. It's just a good fit for me.

"I had 42 receptions for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns. I think I run really good route running and try and run crisp routes so I can sell the deep ball or the double move. I have really good hands and in practice I'm known as the ‘one hand man' because I can catch the ball with either hand."

Having two brothers playing on opposite sides of the ball may seem like a recipe for disaster at the family dinner table. However, the Holder boys don't trash talk or pick on one another when it's time to strap on the helmet and pads.

"I try to keep it easy on my brother because I don't want to start any trouble or a fight with him," said Alijah with a chuckle. "When you're really competitive sometimes those sibling rivalries can get out of hand, so I take it easy on him.

"It's pretty fun though and he's good competition. He's just as good if not better than most receivers that I've gone up again, so he's a really good athlete and he's also really cool too. We think a lot alike, so I can sometimes read him and know what he's thinking. It's pretty funny."

"Yeah, we usually try and stay away from that because you know how it will end up with brothers. Sometimes it can end up being a little too physical," said Mikah while laughing as well. "Our coaches are always trying to push us and test us with going up against each other to make us become the best we can be sometimes like in one-on-ones. For the most part we keep it pretty cool though."

The two highly competitive brothers learned at an early age to keep the sibling rivalry as a minimum. The two have had their physical quarrels in the past while trying to outdo one another.

"It's already happened before, so we stay away from that," said Mikah. "It happened once when we were in Pop Warner when we were little. We're a little more mature now and know how to act. We'll give it to each other once in a while when we make a good play on each other, but mostly we play on the opposite sides of each other so we don't get into that as much."

The Holder boys are receiving quite a bit of attention from various colleges.

"UNLV came down last week and Utah State came down," said Alijah. "Utah State said they were going to offer my brother and I. UNLV really likes us too. Other schools of interest are Stanford, Cal, BYU, got a letter from Oregon, Colorado State and a lot of Mountain West Conference schools and Oregon State. I just started getting letters from Washington."

"My brother has six offers so far and I have five right now, and I'm waiting on BYU," said Mikah. "I have offers from Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, SDSU and San Jose State."

Alijah has offers from those same five schools, as well as an offer Washington State. Meanwhile, Utah State is close to offering the two.

"They just started picking up interest because we had a seven-on-seven tournament and I did really well," said Alijah. "I heard back from Coach Jordan Paopao, and he said he heard about the tournament and heard how we both did really well. After the tournament I started getting a lot of letters from Washington as well. BYU is showing interest in both of us and they're thinking of offering both us, but I know they really like my brother a lot. It's good to hear from schools like BYU."

The Holder boys are part of the Elite 760 passing league team, and had a good showing in the seven-on-seven tournament.

"We were in Fullerton two weekends ago and we lost in our passing tournament to B2G," said Mikah. "In that tournament I had a really nice one-handed catch on the sideline and one at the end. I think my catching is really superb right now but there are always things I can work on. I know there is a kid from Mission Hills [Fred Warner] that plays for B2G that committed to BYU. I didn't get a chance to go up against him in the tournament, but he's a really good athlete and loves to compete. He's a good linebacker and his stock should rise because he's really quick and physical. He's a good player."

As for BYU, the Cougars have been looking at Mikah for some time, but it was only recently that they saw that Alijah was an outstanding prospect as well.

"The day that BYU came down was a couple of weeks ago," said Alijah. "They knew about my brother, but when they came down they saw me practice. The recruiting coach for our area is a DB coach. I was told to call him later that night so I called him. He said he would love to have me come out there and play for BYU.

"He was asking me things like what I was looking for in colleges. I was talking to him about some of those things like playing opportunity and academics and things like that. I told him that I wanted to go to a college that has great academics because I want to be a student first and an athlete second. BYU is a school with great academics. They have a lot great things going on over there."

"BYU came down as the same day as SDSU a little while back and their receivers coach wanted me to get in touch with them," said Mikah. "They said they wanted to offer and wanted to make it official pretty soon. They just want to see me, and my receiver coach said they're going to fly down soon to possibly make it official. I thought it was kind of cool how BYU came down to see us work out. Arizona offered us a while ago and they also came out to see us around the same time. It's just kind of cool to see all these colleges come down and show interest in you. Utah State also said they're going to plan on offering us here soon too."

With BYU firmly in the recruiting picture, the Holder boys are excited about what new possibilities are in store for them.

"When Coach Nick Howell came down to our school to watch us work out, he saw that my brother has really good DB ball skills," said Mikah. "He said they're now looking at him as well and that's a neat thing for us. I just think of it as a great compliment how a college like BYU is saying they want to offer. BYU is a college with great academic standards and that's what I'm looking for. I want a college with great academic standards that I can be a part of. It's just a great honor knowing that BYU likes someone like me [since I] know how hard it is to get into a school like BYU. It's just a great honor and feeling. The BYU coach said they might make a decision pretty soon."

"Yeah, it would be great because I know they really like my brother," said Alijah. "BYU would be a great place to play because of the type of college that it is. There's a lot of high expectations there, and when a college like that shows interest it's exciting to know that because it says a lot about who you are."

While Alijah is just now becoming more involved with BYU recruiting, Mikah apparently is a little further along in process. So, what is it that he's looking for in a college?

"Well, the way me and my brother were raised, we were raised in a very traditional and proper family," said Mikah. "We were always taught to be respectful and sort of old-fashioned in comparison to how things are today. What I'm looking for is a great place where I feel comfortable being at. I learned that there are great places that can offer you a great campus experience with great people around you. I just want to go to an all-around great school that can benefit me in the real world and athletically on the field. I want a school that can help me grow on the field as a football player and in the classroom as a student.

"I'm also looking at a place where I can feel comfortable at. If I visit a college, I can tell what kind of people they are that go there. I want to go to a place where I can fit in well with a similar type of people on the campus and on the football team. I want to go somewhere where the football players are like I am. I want to be a part of a team where the football players are good players but good character kids too."

The Holder boys might visit the state of Utah this summer with the Aiga Foundation, a non-profit, faith-based organization dedicated to assisting student athletes in their pursuit of college excellence.

"I'm hoping to go with the Aiga Foundation to visit the Utah Utes and the BYU Cougars this summer," said Mikah. "I went with them to campuses like Stanford, Cal, Arizona, ASU. They're going to have another one for the state of Utah, so I'm hoping to make it with that one."

The Holder boys, who have some connections to the state of Utah, are half Samoan.

"My mother is Samoan and her maiden name is Marquardt," said Mikah. "We have a lot of family in Utah and some down here in Southern California. I was wondering if we were related to the Marquardts that went to BYU. I saw that there were some that went over there. It's something that I want to find out."

In the meantime the two brothers are waiting to see what options are on the table. Once all the options are in, then the two will sit down and make a decision that's best for them.

"I want to let things play out a little bit," said Alija. I'm kind of waiting, but my coach is urging me and my brother to commit before the end of summer," Alijah said. "I'm kind of waiting to see if any colleges coming calling. You just never know what colleges might offer you later that are showing you interest now."

"Yeah, we'll probably wait on things a bit to see how things shape up," said Mikah. "I think we want to see what our options are, then go from there. There are some schools still deciding and some colleges are getting close, like BYU."

An offer would be special for Mikah.

"I would be really excited about BYU offering me a scholarship because to me that would be an honor," he said. "I was talking with the receivers coach and he said he's probably only going to take one or two receivers in my class. It would be a great honor to be counted as one of them. It would be a great accomplishment for me to know that I was one of those two offered by them."

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