Nittany Lions lose recruit Holley

Penn State football fans worried that James Franklin would run out of scholarships for 2014 have an extra one to work with today.

However, they’d have preferred to get it another way.

Thomas Holley, the New York City defensive tackle, switched his verbal commitment from the Nittany Lions on Wednesday to Florida, according to numerous online sources.

A consensus top-100 prospect and regarded as possibly the best recruit in the Lions’ class, Holley had formed a tight relationship with defensive line coach Larry Johnson that was a big part of the reason the 6-foot-4, 299-pounder committed to Penn State. When Johnson left for Ohio State earlier this week, it appeared there was a chance the Lions would lose his services, although Franklin was supposed to make a visit to Holley.

Although distance from home was considered another key factor in Holley’s decision, Florida was considered the runner-up to Penn State when Holley originally committed. Online reports cited Holley’s relationship with the Gator coaching staff and having to try to get to know an almost entirely new staff in a month at Penn State as the reasons for the change.

Ohio State and Notre Dame were believed to be the other teams making up Holley’s final four. Ohio State pulled out of contention on or shortly after a visit by coach Urban Meyer late in the year, and there has been no word of the Buckeyes continuing to pursue Holley.

With Holley out of the picture, Penn State has 21 recruits for its 2014 recruiting class, five of whom have already enrolled and three of which are defensive linemen. The Lions were believed to have 23 scholarships available because of the limitations from NCAA sanctions, but recent reports now suggest Penn State could bring in as many as 26 if they count the early enrollees toward the 2013 class and count a couple of scholarships in 2015’s numbers.