Reports: Top DL prospect commits to Penn State

Penn State has landed one of the top high school football recruits in the class of 2014.

Thomas Holley, a defensive lineman from New York City rated as one of top 100 prospects in the country by all four major recruiting services, announced a commitment to Penn State on Tuesday morning. The 6-foot-4, 299-pounder also was considering Florida at the end and had made an official visit to Ohio State, as well.

Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida State, USC and Miami were among the other top programs that had offered Holley a scholarship. He had more than 20 scholarship offers and has been selected to play in the Under-Armour All-American Game in January.

Holley figures to play defensive tackle for the Nittany Lions, but internet sites reported that he also could see time at defensive end — attempts to reach Holley and his coach, Shawn O’Connor, were unsuccessful by press deadline. Holley made 65 tackles this season for Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn as the Railsplitters went 13-0 and won the New York Public Schools Athletic League championship.

Holley had seven tackles in a 28-27 victory over Tottenville in the PSAL final.

“He is a highly motivated kid who pays attention and I can see a tremendous improvement in him from when he first got on the field,” O’Connor said to the New York Daily News last week. “He’s highly motivated and he has tremendous physical ability.”

For the season, Holley also made seven sacks and had 24 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, along with a fumble recovery.

“For me, I like a school to have the total package,” Holley told the Daily News in an article focusing on his college choice. “Do they have what I want to major in – for me that’s business – how is the environment, because it’s a place I’ll have to live the next three or four years, and then the football program . . .does it have what I need to be successful?”

Nittany Lion defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s track record of turning out NFL players seemed to get Holley’s attention.

“That’s where I want to get, and if he’s a person who can get me there and have me prepared better than another person, then why not?” Holley told the Daily News.

Holley joins New Jersey’s Antoine White and junior college transfer Tarow Barney as defensive tackles in this Penn State recruiting class. The Nittany Lions also have been involved with Virginia four-star prospect Derrick Nnadi.

The Nittany Lions graduate starters DaQuan Jones and Kyle Baublitz, so they needed to replenish the ranks on the interior of the defensive line. They won’t have a senior defensive tackle who came to the college on scholarship next fall.

Holley’s commitment gives Penn State 17 recruits in a class expected to eventually include 23 or 24 players. There have been conflicting reports that the Lions also might have gotten a commitment from Rahway, N.J. linebacker/running back Donte Raymond — Raymond, who had committed to Delaware, had denied those reports.