Four-star DT Holley Explains Florida Flip

Brooklyn Abraham Lincoln four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley changed his commitment to Florida on Wednesday, and then he explained his decision.

The relationship Thomas Holley built with Florida's staff and the doggedness they showed led the four-star defensive tackle to flip to the Gators.

Holley, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound four-star defensive tackle from Brooklyn Abraham Lincoln, switched his commitment from Penn State to Florida during a Wednesday morning phone call with Gators coach Will Mushchamp. He committed to Penn State last month, before coach Bill O'Brien left for the NFL.

"Those were my top two schools and they were neck-and-neck with who I was going to pick, so that is why it wasn't too difficult of a choice," Holley said. "I have a great relationship with the (Florida) coaching staff. It's a great program. The defense is always top 10 in the country. It's hard to shy away from that."

In fact, it was Holley's relationship with Penn State's former staff, particularly former defensive line coach Larry Johnson, that led him to the Nittany Lions last month.

However, after the coaching change, Holley didn't want to start the process over with Penn State's new coach, James Franklin, or the new staff.

"It's hard to build a relationship with a coaching staff in two weeks," Holley said. "I was talking to O'Brien and his staff for 10 month. It was difficult. Before I picked Penn State, it came down to the wire between them and Florida. One of the main reasons I picked Penn State was it was closer to home than Florida.

"After sitting down and talking about it with my family, they said wherever I go, they'll make their way out there. I could see that, especially with the Under Armour All-American Game. I had a large amount of my family out there, and that's in Florida, too. So if I went to Florida, I'd still have some support coming out to see me."

Holley called the Florida staff Wednesday morning to make his commitment.

"Everyone was ecstatic," he said. "They were still contacting me when I was committed to Penn State. They were still trying to recruit me and they were happy. I was a bit hit for them. They were just happy."

Notre Dame also tried to get involved with Holley again, but he previously said he wasn't interested in the Irish because he was being recruited to play nose guard there.

At Florida, he sees a chance to be versatile.

"Me being a unique athlete with my size and strength and speed, I have the ability to play 3-technique or defensive end," he said. "Learning the game, I've been able to play on the left side or the right side. It makes me a lot more versatile, so whatever the coaches need, I should be able to do it for them and be a more impactful player.

"The opportunity is there for me to go in and play as a freshman. Nothing is guaranteed. I'm going to go in there and work hard like everybody else, but I know I have the opportunity to go in and play as a freshman and make an impact."

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