Eli Holstein thrives on tough competition


Eli Holstein thrives on tough competition

Eli Holstein always seems to be the youngest player on the football field. And he always relishes the challenge of squaring off against older competition.
“It can be a hard challenge,” Holstein said. “But it’s not something I’m afraid of because I’ve always been doing that. I think it’s helped make me a better football player.”
Holstein is a fourth grader in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he doesn’t turn 10 until the end of October. But when he attended the Duel last month in Massillon, Ohio, he competed with quarterbacks a grade ahead of him.

Duel success

“It was my first Duel and it was a lot of fun,” Holstein said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was more challenging than I thought it was going to be and there were a lot of really good kids out there.”
Despite being younger than the rest of the field, Holstein showed he was pretty good himself. He finished third in NFA’s showcase quarterback event.
“Going to the Duel, and with the competition that was there, it’s going to help me get better and help me build on things I’m already good at,” Holstein said. “And doing well in the competition, I think that’s going to make me a lot more confident going into my season.”
Holstein is going to be playing for the South Baton Rouge Rams in the Baton Rouge Recreational League this year. The program has produced many players that have gone on to play college football at nearby LSU before advancing to the NFL.
Of course, many of the players Holstein will be competing against are a year older. “I’m just going to try to win as many games as possible,” he said.
Before relocating to Louisiana last year, Holstein got his promising career off to s roaring start playing for the Celebration Storm in Central Florida. Holstein’s team lost only two games in two seasons, and one memorable highlight was rushing for 4 touchdowns during a game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Working to get better

As he continues playing football, Holstein keeps working on his game. “I’ve been doing a lot of running and lifting weights to get ready for the season,” he said. “And I’ve been doing a lot of throwing.”
Holstein attended his first NFA camp before receiving his Duel invite, and the experience also helped improve his quarterback skills. “NFA really worked with me on my drop and my throwing motion,” he said.
He’s used to going up against older competition, and that includes his older brother Caleb, who is a seventh grader. Like Eli, Caleb is a quarterback with NFA camp experience, and he just missed finishing in the Top 3 at the Duel.
“We’re always really competitive with each other,” Eli said. “But he’s really helped me to be a quarterback. He’s taught me everything.”



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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University