Gators garner commit from top recruit
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:08 p.m.
Florida flexed its muscles on the recruiting trail once again Wednesday with the commitment of Thomas Holley.
The Under Armour All-American defensive tackle from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln is the fourth prospect UF has flipped this month.
Holley chose Penn State over Florida in December, but the coaching changes in Happy Valley caused him to switch schools.
“People think this was a hard decision for him — it wasn't,” said Shawn O'Connor, Holley's high school coach. “He built a great relationship with Florida and Penn State, and when he narrowed it down to those two it was really hard at that time to pick one over the other.
“Then when the situation changed at Penn State, it was real easy and clear to him that he was destined to be a Gator. The relationship he built with that staff, there's no way he could have built that with James Franklin and his coaches in two weeks.”
Holley's future position coach and primary recruiter at Penn State, Larry Johnson, left for Ohio State this week, a move many thought could open the door for the Buckeyes.
“That never crossed his mind,” O'Connor said. “He took an official visit there and had an idea of what they were all about, but he eliminated them. He didn't see himself going to Ohio State, and that wasn't going to change no matter who the coaches were.”
O'Connor believes Holley will not be receptive to the recruiting efforts of Franklin and Urban Meyer in the coming weeks.
“That's not going to happen,” he said. “Nothing against those guys, but Thomas and his family are done with this. They've already gone through the process, and his mind is made up.”
The last defensive tackle UF signed from New York was Dominique Easley, a player that made the Gators appealing to Holley.
“Thomas spoke to Dominique Easley, and I have a very good relationship with his high school coach,” O'Connor said. “They did nothing but say great things about coach Will Muschamp and the school, and that made us all feel comfortable.”
Florida now has 21 members in its 2014 class, including 12 from the ESPN300 with the addition of Holley. The 6-foot-4, 303-pounder has a five-star rating from 247Sports and is a Top-100 prospect on ESPN and Rivals.
Verbal commitments are not binding until prospects sign their national letters of intent Feb. 5.