STANFORD — Alijah Holder grew up in competition with his twin brother, Mikah.
“Heads got cracked, furniture got dented,” Holder said. “But I loved every second of it.”
The sibling rivalry subdued in high school as teammates at Oceanside, located fewer than 40 miles north of San Diego. That’s about to change Saturday, as No. 19 Stanford travels to play San Diego State at 7:30 p.m.
Alijah, 21, is a 6-foot-2, 191-pound cornerback for the Cardinal (1-1). Mikah is a 6-foot, 185-pound wide receiver for the Aztecs (2-0).
“Well, it’s not like I’ve never hit my brother,” Holder said. “We’re brothers, we fought a lot. But first impact I think it will be more funny than anything. I know that I’m going to have to hit him and then I’ll help him up.”
It’s a matchup years in the making, after the twins split paths at the conclusion of high school.
While Mikah followed in their older brother’s footsteps, with King Holder a former defensive back for the Aztecs, Alijah opted to leave home.
“Going through the recruiting with their mother, they’d always been on the same team, of course,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “And talking to Alijah, they had never really gone against each other. They wouldn’t even do it in practice. So this will be interesting, to see when and if it does play. I tried to ask Alijah about it and it’s hard for him to really express how he feels about it, because he’s conflicted. They have that connection that twins have, that they know each other so well.
“And I don’t know if he’s looking forward to it or not, but if it happens he’s going to compete. And I know there’s going to be one conflicted lady in the stands.”
Actually, the one person who can’t wait for kickoff is their mother, Angela.
“I already know, she’s loving it,” Holder said. “I mean, she’s telling everybody to come to the game. She’s making shirts and she’s texting me and my brother every day, just supporting us. She loves the whole thing.”
Mikah, in a run-heavy scheme at San Diego State, led his team last year as a junior with 27 catches for 581 yards and five touchdowns.
This season he has four catches for 26 yards.
“I’ve always thought Mikah was the better athlete than me,” Holder said. “But, you know, I go to Stanford, I’ve been trained now. I think I’m a little better of a matchup.”
A shoulder injury limited Holder to four games last year as redshirt sophomore at Stanford, and his absence was sorely felt in back-to-back blowout losses at Washington and against Washington State.
In the 42-24 setback at USC this past weekend, Holder flashed his potential with an acrobatic interception in which he tipped a pass by Heisman Trophy candidate Sam Darnold to himself in the opening drive of the second half.
“As soon as he releases it, I just go run after the ball and I make the play,” said Holder, who anticipated a deep throw and sank into coverage once he noticed Darnold move out of the pocket. “I didn’t even believe it at the time. I was just like, ‘Whoa, my gosh, I actually just did that.’ I’m running around and the only regret I had in the whole play is not catching with a snatch.”
“That’s what me missed from Alijah last year,” Shaw said. “He’s got such a great feel for quarterbacks and such a great feel for route combinations. To be able to sit close enough to the lower route, but still be able to explode and accelerate to the deeper route, and to have long arms and leaping ability and ball skills, it was an impressive play.”
It was one of the few highlights on a night in which the secondary was dissected by Arnold, with the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft going 21 of 26 for 316 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We just need to have more discipline,” Holder said. “We just had bad eyes in the backfield. We were trying to make a play, and that’s a great attitude to have, but we need to do it in an effort that’s responsible for our job. And that’s what we did not do. We did not execute to that standard, and we’re going to come back this game and we’re going to do it exactly right.”
As if Holder needed any more motivation than to watch his brother standing on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
“It’s something I’ve never done before, he’s never done before — and what a stage to do it on,” Holder said. “Going back home, back to Qualcomm (Stadium), I’ve played there one time in high school for a championship, and now I get to play my brother back where I’m from. So I think a little bit of fate has dealt its hand, but I think it’s going to be something pretty special.”
The only rule?
The twins are no longer allowed to crack heads.
“No, I can’t knock out my brother,” Holder said. “But if somebody else does, nothing I can do about that.”
All Credit Goes To This Website: Source link