LAKE BUENA VISTA– 2014 Defensive tackle Thomas Holley (6-4, 285, Brooklyn, N.Y. Abraham Lincoln) is a Penn State Nittany Lion –for now that is. Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien and Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with Holley on the same day, December 10th. One week later, Holley announced his decision and in the end, the team from State College won by a nose.
“It wasn’t anything anyone could do I just felt more comfortable with Penn State It really came down to the wire with Penn State and Florida,” Holley told Gator Country during Under Armour week check in. “Florida’s a great school, great football, great academics and the opportunity was there. Great coaching staff. It was just a little bit difficult but I felt that Penn State was a little bit better.”
Holley says Muschamp was gracious in defeat on the recruiting trail, congratulating him on picking what the coach called “a good school.” Muschamp did not completely wave the white flag, however. He said that the door to Florida was still open and that the Gators still want Holley.
The Gators may be a coaching vacancy away from getting their man, Holley says there’s one thing that could make him reconsider his verbal to Penn State: Bill O’Brien leaving to go somewhere else.
“It’s definitely a possibility because you never know what’s gonna happen when a coach leaves, Holley said. “Coaches are coming in and you don’t know what changes are going to be made so I don’t want to be coming into a program cold not knowing anybody or what the people I built a relationship with are doing.”
O’Brien’s departure could be imminent according to reports early in the afternoon:
Bill O’Brien & Texans intensify talks they hope will make him next coach in Houston, per sources. ESPN link soon from myself & @AdamSchefter
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 28, 2013
Mortensen later tweeted a story that cited Holley affirming his belief that O’Brien would stay.
The concept of O’Brien leaving was enough to get Holley thinking but he says the Penn State head coach has told him that he has a five-year contract and assured him he’d be there for the final two years of it at least. With O’Brien still in the mix, Holley is 100% Nittany Lion, even though fellow defensive lineman and best friend Khari Clark (a Florida commit) is still trying some last minute recruiting tactics.
“Ya he still tries to recruit me a little bit saying with him at the nose and me at the three-technique we can dominate other O-lines and it’s good but for right now I’m still with Penn State,” Holley said.