Holley staying open minded

Under Armour All-American defensive tackle Thomas Holley has a lot on his mind these days. Recently Holley committed to Penn State and only days later, the head coach he committed to moved on to another job and in the NFL. After a strong week in Lake Buena Vista (Fla.) Holley will now focus on his commitment to Penn State and where he stands with it.

After only a couple of years of playing football, Thomas Holley has managed to make himself one of the elite players in all of high school ball. This week at the practices for the Under Armour All-American Game, he showed that he was one of the best and why he should be coveted by the best programs in college football.

"I thought I played hard and played well," Holley said after the game Thursday. "I was able to make some plays early and late in the game. There was a lot of competition out here and I got better.

"It was great just bonding with these guys and playing with these guys that I will see in the future. I definitely learning as much as I can, it has been a great experience."

The speculation on Bill O'Brien heading to the Houston Texans was big for a few days leading up to him accepting the job. Holley couldn't help but hear about it and was asked by many about the situation.

"I wasn't too surprised, there was always a 50/50 chance (it would happen)," Holley said. "I kind of prepared myself for it. He called me and told me he was leaving that day. I was very appreciative of him. It shows what kind of character and man he is. I was just glad to know him since he was at Penn State. I am just waiting to see what happens from there and make my decision from there."

There is a lot of unknown for Holley. There is tons of speculation, but nobody knows for sure who will be the new head coach. Key for Holley is defensive line coach Larry Johnson who was promoted to the Interim Head Coach. Keeping Johnson seems almost imperative for any chance of keeping Holley committed.

"Nobody knows who they are bringing in a head coach and what he does, whether he decides to go for the head coaching job or stay the defensive line coach," he said of Johnson. "We will see when they get there."

It does appear Penn State is trying to get the position settled quickly.

"From what I heard they are trying to get a new head coach in as soon as possible, probably January 10," Holley said. "So I have plenty of time. I will just wait to see what happens. Hopefully I will make the right decision whether it is saying stay with Penn State or going elsewhere."

The former coach put in a strong word for the school even after he was on his way out the door.

"Coach O'Brien said that Penn State is a great fit for me from the type of person I am," Holley said. "He said no matter what happens I should stay there, but I really do have to see what happens. Coach Johnson has been a big impact on me as far as going to Penn State.

The team that has stayed on him has been Florida. The Gators were right there at the end when he committed to Penn State and just a day or two before he committed to the Nittany Lions, Florida was thought to possibly be his pick.

The Gators continue to recruit him positively and are still in strong consideration.

"As of right now Florida would be the main school," he said of other teams besides Penn State. "I still have two more official visits left. If any changes are made I could use those or I could go to Florida, but I don't know what is going to happen.

"Florida has stayed in touch with me. They have been in contact with my uncle and coach and stayed on top of me to recruit me. They say that the door is open and if I were to leave I could go to Florida and there is a great opportunity there. I have a great relationship with the coaches there too, so that is a plus."

He's also been getting the sell job from others that are committed to the Gators, including defensive tackle Khairi Clark.

"A couple of guys have been on me about going to Florida," he said with a smile. "Khairi is still texting me saying that with Coach O'Brien gone he and I could be a big impact in the SEC as defensive linemen. There are a couple of people recruiting me like that. I am just waiting to see what happens before I make any major moves."

Holley ran off the list of things that he knows that stands out about Florida and why they were in such high consideration before he committed to PSU.

"I have a great relationship with the coaches and it is a great atmosphere," he said. "The opportunity to come in and play as a freshman is there. As long as I work hard, I have a spot there. I just like the school and have great relationship with the coaches."


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