Florida has a legitimate shot at landing 2014 four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley in the near future.
Holley is orally committed to Penn State, but his recruiter, longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson, could leave the program, according to an NBC10 Philadelphia report. Johnson is currently the Nittany Lions’ interim head coach, filling in for Bill O’Brien, who was officially introduced as the Houston Texans’ head coach on Jan. 2 after two seasons at PSU’s helm.
Johnson has been on Penn State’s staff since 1996. NBC10 Philadelphia reported that Johnson was upset he did not get interviewed for the PSU head coaching job, and "his intention is to leave."
Reports emerged Thursday that current Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin would take over in Happy Valley as head coach. ESPN reported Thursday night that Franklin’s contract would be finalized by a Penn State committee on Saturday.
Holley told Florida Sports Talk NBC Sports Radio on Dec. 31, 2013, that if he were to decommit from Penn State, he would highly consider going to UF.
In fact, it would be his first choice.
"Florida is definitely a great school, and if I ever was [sic] to decommit and reconsider a school, it would be Florida," Holley said.
"But we’ll wait and see what happens when we get to that bridge, but right now it’s 100 percent Penn State."
It appears that Holley is at that bridge, if reports of Johnson leaving Happy Valley prove to be true. Holley would be an impressive pickup for UF and is skilled enough to make an impact on defense soon.
He is the No. 3 defensive tackle in the class and No. 2 ranked tackle from the state of New York, according to Rivals.com.
Holley, originally from Brooklyn, also said that being close to home is an important factor in his decision.
The Gators’ depth at defensive tackle took a big hit with Dominique Easley’s departure to the 2014 NFL Draft. If UF can snag Holley, it would be that much closer to filling the hole left by Easley.
Follow Morgan Moriarty on Twitter @Morgan_Moriarty