Kurt Holuba ’18 was only 6 years old when he first played football at Princeton Stadium. “I remember going down for the ‘fifth quarter,’ going on the field with my older brother, and waiting for my oldest brother to get out of the locker room,” he said.
Eight years after linebacker Rob Holuba ’06 graduated from Princeton, Kurt followed him. And last November, as a junior defensive end, Kurt was on the familiar home turf when the Tigers celebrated an Ivy League championship. He finished second in the voting for Ivy Defensive Player of the Year after recording 34 tackles and eight sacks.
As a senior captain this year, Holuba may be in his final dress rehearsal for the NFL. Two Tiger defensive linemen — Mike Catapano ’13 and Caraun Reid ’14 — have been drafted in the last five years, and Holuba, a preseason All-American, looks primed to add his name to that list.
When Holuba first committed to Princeton, it was seen as a huge coup for the Tigers. He was also recruited by Harvard, where his other brother, All-Ivy center Jack Holuba, had recently finished his playing career. About 20 Football Bowl Subdivision schools made scholarship offers as well. Ultimately, it came down to the Crimson and the Tigers, and Princeton, Holuba said, “felt like home.”
“I’m very satisfied with my decision so far,” Holuba said of choosing the Ivies over college football’s power conferences. “I’ve tried to make the most of it every day. I know this is the right fit for me. I don’t feel any regrets or have any feelings of missing out.”
Holuba’s family has set high standards. His father, Bob, was a guard on two undefeated Penn State football teams, and Penn State’s indoor football facility, Holuba Hall, is named for his grandfather, Stanley. His oldest sister, Lauren ’04, also went to Princeton, while his other sister, Fran, played lacrosse at Virginia.
“I’m not going to say it was easy, but there was a path laid out before me that I could follow in their footsteps and know what to do,” Holuba said. “I was very grateful to have them as mentors and role models growing up.”
Holuba also has strong role models on the field. He regularly consults Catapano and Reid, and he worked out with Catapano during the summer, returning to school 15 pounds heavier with 4 percent less body fat.
“Those are two guys that came before me that are doing the things I want to do in the future,” Holuba said. “I’m trying to take advantage of their knowledge and their work ethic and try to learn from them any way I can.”
Holuba has started since his freshman year, and head coach Bob Surace ’90 said he’s always had a contagious work ethic. As his career progressed, he improved his pass-rushing technique, making better use of the speed and strength that made him a coveted recruit.
“He wants to go down in Princeton history as one of the best who’s ever played defense,” Surace said. “We’ve had some unbelievable defensive players, and he’s working hard to put himself in that conversation.”