Specialization isn’t something Tom Allen cares much for at the high school level. The Indiana coach appreciates multi-sport athletes and, maybe more so, two-way players on the football field.
In recent signee Malachi Holt-Bennett, that’s exactly what Allen is getting.
“He can play on both sides of the football. Love that,” Allen said this week in discussing the latest addition to IU’s 2021 signing haul. “I love finding guys that played both ways because if you’re a Division I football player, you should be on that field most of the time. He shows physicality on defense.”
And while Holt-Bennett won’t be playing defense for Indiana — at least not anytime soon — Allen believes that physicality will serve the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Alabama native well at receiver, where he also drew attention from schools such as Georgia, Tennessee, Louisville and Ole Miss, among others.
247 Sports considers him a four-star recruit and the No. 47 receiver in the country.
“He has really good ball skills, great range and length,” Allen said. “I love his length. He’s athletic. He was (also) a Wildcat quarterback at times, making guys miss in space. The toughness, what you see on film comes out in the way he plays. It’s all about getting open and sinking your hips and getting out of your breaks — that’s what he does well. Then, (he has) the ball skills to be able to come up with contested balls.”
As a senior, Holt-Bennett racked up 793 all-purpose yards, appearing at receiver, running back, quarterback, defensive back and punter. He also holds his high school record for special teams touchdowns. What’s also appealing to Allen is that Holt-Bennett is an accomplished basketball player who averaged 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds and helped his team to a state title last spring.
He’s a versatile athlete, the kind Allen loves to pursue.
“He fits with our culture,” Allen said. “He’s a guy we recruited really, really hard this offseason when we were doing all the Zoom calls and FaceTimes. I really love his personality. He’s a great fit with us in so many different ways.”