Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
Thomas Holley picked Penn State last month, when Bill O’Brien was still the school’s head coach. Now O’Brien is the head coach of the Houston Texans and Holley is mulling his future.
A new year means a new recruiting situation for Thomas Holley.
Though the 6-4, 285-pound Lincoln lineman verbally committed to Penn State just two weeks ago, there is still a chance he could end up somewhere else now that Bill O’Brien has left the Nittany Lions to become the head coach of the Houston Texans. Holley, a defensive lineman, was already being recruited by some of the biggest programs in the country before he picked Penn State, and now that O’Brien is no longer that school’s head coach, Holley might choose to play somewhere else.
However, Holley made it clear from the start that one of the biggest reasons he picked Penn State was because of his admiration for the Nittany Lions defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who has been with the program for nearly 20 years. After O’Brien’s departure to Houston became official, Penn State named Johnson the team’s interim head coach.
Lincoln HS football coach Shawn O’Connor told the Daily News on Wednesday night that Holley would “probably” still go to Penn State as long as Johnson is with the program. But, of course, there are no guarantees.
Holley is in Florida, preparing to play in the Under Armour All-American Game in St. Petersburg on Thursday afternoon. O’Connor said he is due back in New York on Friday and that O’Connor, Holley and Holley’s mother and uncle would sit down to discuss the situation at some point that day.
“If Larry stays I think Thomas is comfortable staying,” said O’Connor, whose team won the PSAL city title on Dec. 10, beating Tottenville at Yankee Stadium in a game in which Holley had one sack. “But if they bring in a head coach who decides to redo the whole scheme, we’ll have to see where that leaves Thomas.”
“But I think Larry Johnson being named interim head coach is a position sign for Thomas,” O’Connor said.
According to reports, Johnson’s primary job as interim coach will be to keep its recruiting class together until the signing period begins with National Letter of Intent Day on Feb. 5. The Nittany Lions, who lost numerous scholarships as part of the penalty in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case, have one of the strongest recruiting classes in the country. Holley is considered one of the top players in New York State.
“Larry Johnson was the main reason he was going there,” O’Connor said.
A call to Holley’s mother, Cadace, was not returned.