Thomas Holley has just one year of varsity football under his belt, but the Brooklyn native is already being tabbed the next big thing coming out of NYC. The class of 2014 DT played just 8 games in his first season for Coach Shawn O’Connor’s Lincoln Railsplitters, but the 6’5” 290 lb. pass rusher is already attracting national attention. Over the last week alone, Holley has been offered by Syracuse, Miami, Florida State and Boston College. He also received his latest offer from Rutgers yesterday after an unofficial visit to campus. The junior never imagined top BCS programs would be after him this quickly.
“To be honest, I never expected it to happen as soon as it did. I saw my highlight film, it looked pretty good, and coach said, ‘You’re a real good player and once we get your football IQ up and you’re technique going, you’ll be one hell of a player.’ It is a little bit overwhelming to be [getting offers] so early.”
Over the last few years, SU has not been able to land the big fish from New York City: Ebenezer Ogundeko this year, Jarron Jones in 2012, Ishaq Williams in 2011, and Dominique Easily in 2010. But Holley already had a tremendous talk with Scott Shafer and D-Line Coach Time Daoust last week.
“It was amazing. They definitely showed a lot of interest, and it was more than just coming to recruit, it was more of just getting to know me as a person. That felt good.”
Holley’s story is a very interesting one. He transferred from Christ the King in Brooklyn before the start of the 2012-2013 school year. Holley was a basketball star for the Royals, and was always very close with Lincoln Head Basketball Coach Tre Morton. Holley wanted to get back into the public school and decided to transfer.
“I was familiar with their basketball program already and it was a good fit for me. Also, I knew I was going to play football, and I knew Lincoln had a good football program.”
Once Shawn O’Connor spotted the 6’5” wrecking machine he convinced him to play football in the spring. He clearly had the agility and athleticism after playing basketball since the third grade, and was a natural the minute he stepped out onto the football field. Wondering how big of an impact he made? Just ask O’Connor.
“His first ever play he scored a touchdown. He was terrific, so much potential.”
Holley recovered a fumble for a touchdown off a botched punt on his first snap. Not a bad way to start your career. In addition to the half dozen offers he’s received the Brooklyn native will be traveling to Penn State this weekend.
Since football season ended, Holley has been playing on the same floor as current SU basketball target and Class of 2014 product Isaiah Whitehead. The two are very close and sometimes talk about playing for the Orange.
“We’ve talked about Syracuse a few times. For me and Isaiah, it was like we were re-united. We’ve played together, we’ve won many games with each other. We still communicated even though we were in different schools.”
Holley has been playing with Whitehead since the fifth grade. The pair was on the same AAU team all throughout middle school and part of high school. Their connection will be music to SU fans’ ears. Holley already has some ties to CNY. He’s close friends with QB Terrell Hunt – who also played at Christ the King – and Holley has talked with commit Wayne Williams about representing NYC at Syracuse.
The DT has a motor that does not stop on the gridiron. His first season playing for Lincoln was extremely productive, and a learning experience, he admitted. But this summer he will be training as the college offers start to pile in. Holley has a tremendous attitude, and for someone with his size, gets off the line very quick. Syracuse’s class of 2013 finished up just a couple weeks ago, but the Orange already has its sights set on what could be the face of NYC in 2014.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald