Of course, on the same day that I wrote how well James Franklin was already doing on the recruiting trail at Penn State, the top player committed to the Nittany Lions decided to change his mind. 4-Star defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who chose Penn State over Florida in mid-December, decided to make it known on Wednesday that he would no longer be heading to Happy Valley.
Scott Wiltfon of 247sports.com reported that Holley backed out of his commitment with the Nittany Lions and chose to join the Florida Gators.
While that’s not good news for Penn State, fans shouldn’t be all that worried. The move was pretty much expected after former head coach Bill O’Brien left the school to coach the Houston Texans in the NFL. What seemed to seal the deal for Holley was when former defensive line coach Larry Johnson announced he was leaving Penn State this week. Holley seemed to have a good relationship with Johnson, who’s regarded as one of the top recruiters on the East Coast.
Holley would have been a great addition for the Nittany Lions, and his decision dropped Penn State’s 2014 class out of the top-20 on several recruiting lists. However, the defensive line, where Holley would have played, should be a fairly strong unit this season with guys like Anthony Zettel, Deion Barnes and Garrett Sickels returning. Also, Franklin has already gained a defensive lineman in former Vanderbilt commit Lloyd Tubman. While not regarded as highly as Holley, he is a 4-star prospect.
Sure, it’s always bad to lose a top recruit, but this situation isn’t a reflection of what to expect in the future. The fact that Franklin is now at the helm of recruiting for Penn State should bring solace. Holley wasn’t his recruit anyway, and the two didn’t have a tie. Now, there is an extra scholarship available for Franklin to bring in someone who will fit into his plan for the Nittany Lions.
Franklin comes to the Nittany Lions with a reputation of already being a great recruiter. He brings an excitement and a passion that is sure to be contagious to young recruits. Regardless of the tough sanctions still present at Penn State, I fully believe that he will still be able to bring in top talent. Franklin certainly intends to, especially with his new catchphrase of “Dominate.”
As for the current class, there are still talented players available who could use Holley’s now-available spot. One player who is now on Franklin’s radar for Penn State is 4-star safety Emmanuel Smith. The talented defensive back originally committed to Franklin at Vanderbilt, but is now looking to head elsewhere.
Although it’s disappointing to see someone rated such as high as Holley go, Penn State fans need not worry. The direction hat Franklin is headed seems like a very positive one. . He’s already shown that he can hold his own in recruiting against top schools in the SEC and is set for great things with the Nittany Lions.
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