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Monday, April 1, 2013
2014 PSU spotlight: DT Thomas Holley

By Josh Moyer

Over the next few months, NittanyNation will look closer at the 2014 recruits who claim offers from Penn State. Today we examine defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who picked up an offer during an unofficial visit Feb. 23.

Vitals: DT Thomas Holley, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln, 6-foot-4, 285 pounds

Offers: Holley's recruitment has exploded since the New Year. He's approaching 20 offers and is on the big board of numerous perennial top-25 teams such as Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

ESPN scouting report: "Holley is a prospect who has barely begun to scratch the surface of his abilities. ... He looks to carry his weight well with solid muscular development and room for continued physical growth. He needs to improve consistency, but flashes a really good initial burst off the ball with ability to disrupt with penetration. He flashes the ability to fire out low with hip roll on contact and is capable of standing a blocker up and being a physical presence inside, but not surprisingly he needs to work to keep his pad level down." Full scouting report here.

Memorable highlight: At midfield, Holley was either pushed down or slipped -- but he flashed that quickness and recovery speed that college teams are looking for. He recovered, sprinted right and caught up to a scrambling quarterback to push him out of bounds for maybe a 2-yard gain. You can watch it right here at the 1:32 mark.

State of the position: The Nittany Lions are looking to add just one defensive tackle in this class, and they have offers out to three DTs right now. PSU is lacking experience along the interior of the line, but they're not exactly lacking bodies. Three DTs this season will be redshirt freshmen, and another -- Parker Cothren -- will be a true freshman. PSU definitely doesn't need more than one player at this position, so it's keeping an eye on quality.

What has caught Penn State's eye: Holley is a natural athlete. He has just eight high school games under his belt, but he's already dominating on strength and athleticism alone. Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson told the DT that he hasn't formed any bad habits yet and, although he's very raw, he's also very moldable. PSU sees a lot of potential here, and Holley is very quick for such a big guy. He is kind of a project, but the payoff here is big.

What are Penn State's chances? Of the three defensive tackles PSU is currently going after, Holley is probably the least likely to land with the Blue and White. That isn't because he holds no interest in PSU -- it's probably in the medium range right now -- but it's simply because the other two DTs are much higher on Happy Valley right now. Holley insists he has no favorites, and he's taking his recruitment pretty slow. At this point, it seems like Jeremiah Clarke or Ricky Walker are more likely to pick PSU first.

Quotables: "I like it there because they don't just focus on sports. They focus on academics and take that very seriously, and you have to be able to take that education to get somewhere in life. They also have a good coaching staff; they want to build a relationship with you outside of football."