Following his continued record setting season both with the East Carolina University football (2-2, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) program and within the American Athletic Conference (AAC), The East Carolinian has named senior quarterback Holton Ahlers as the Athlete of the Month for September 2022.
Serving as the consistent mainstay for head coach Mike Houston’s era with the Pirates, Ahlers entered the season a fifth year starter. Since 2018, Ahlers has slung the ball for East Carolina and has served as one of the more vocal locker room leaders for the program.
Through four games into his fifth season with the program, Ahlers has thrown for a career 11,286 yards on a career 59.2 completion percentage. Ahlers has paired the air mail with 78 touchdowns as well as 35 interceptions over the course of his career as a Pirate.
On the ground, the fifth year senior has rushed for 1,336 yards and 20 touchdowns. Trickeration has also allowed Ahlers to create the uncanny statistic of receiving two catches in 2021 for 27 yards and a touchdown.
In four games played, Ahlers is setting records for the school and conference. Against North Carolina State University (4-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coastal Conference), Ahlers became the AAC’s leader in total plays as well as completions.
Then against Campbell University (1-2, 0-0 Southern Conference) two games later, Ahlers broke the American’s all-time passing yards record as well as ECU’s record for total yards gained. One game later, Ahlers became the AAC’s leader in all time yards, passing Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ritter.
His longevity in the program was highlighted by Coach Houston during the post game press conference against Campbell University.
“He's one of the first kids I met,” Houston said during the press conference. “He was sitting on the first row when I was introduced to the team. He's been the steady constant since I've been here. He's a great leader in the locker room, he's a phenomenal role model in the community; he's a role model to my two sons. He's a pleasure to be around every single day. You couldn't ask for someone to be more than what he's been.”
The records set display more than just a productive career with the Pirates. Ahlers has been pivotal to the program’s rebuilding. Ahlers’ freshman year, 2018, was the third consecutive 3-9 season for the Pirates. The disappointment led to former head coach Scottie Montgomery being fired and interim head coach David Blackwell being promoted from his defensive coordinator position.
Head coach Mike Houston was brought in ahead of the 2019 season and the two created a bond lasting to this day. Together, they elevated the program slowly but surely to bring the Pirates back to a bowl game. After creating an improved record of 4-8 through the first season, the 2020 pandemic year provided little opportunity for second year growth.
The team, with Ahlers at the head, crossed the hump in the 2021 season. The 7-5 squad became bowl game eligible, but were unfortunately unable to participate due to issues with COVID-19 and their opponent, Boston College. Now, surmounting a 2-2 record through 2022, Ahlers is aiming for more than a bowl game. The quarterback wants a conference championship.
“I think our goals this year are set on winning the conference,” Ahlers said in an interview with Underdog Dynasty. “Being one of the top dogs in the conference, I definitely think we are capable of that with the guys that we have returning. I wouldn’t have returned if I didn’t believe in this team and this place.”
The fifth year senior is giving his all this final season for a chance to play at the next level. NFLdraftbuzz.com currently places Ahlers at an average draft position of 283, placing him near the top of the seventh round of draftable talent following the season. That number is subject to change, however, depending on how the quarterback performs for the rest of the season to follow.