Penn State Recruiting: Thomas Holley Commitment Solidifies DT Depth Chart

Tim TolleyContributor IDecember 18, 2013

Apr 20, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive line coach Larry Johnson talks with defensive tackles Derek Dowrey (53) and Austin Johnson (99) in the fourth quarter of the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State Nittany Lions football team received a big boost this week when defensive tackle Thomas Holley verbally committed to Bill O'Brien.

Holley was the highest rated recruit on Penn State's wish list and is rated as a 5-star recruit by 247Sports, as well as the fourth best defensive tackle prospect in the country and the top overall recruit in the state of New York.

While it's fun to speculate about the career that a player with this high of a ceiling can have under defensive line coach Larry Johnson, his immediate impact is on the depth chart, where the Nittany Lions needed to get better and add bodies.

Holley fits both of those criteria to the extreme.

With DaQuan Jones headed to the NFL and Kyle Baublitz foregoing his redshirt senior season to pursue a career in teaching, Penn State is losing two of the three players who took nearly every snap at tackle in 2013. 

Waiting in the wings are Brian Gaia, Derek Dowrey and redshirt freshman Parker Cothren. That's not enough names at a position where Johnson likes to rotate four or five players per game.

At 6'4" and 300 pounds, Holley has the size to contribute immediately. However, he has only played two seasons of football and may need to refine his technique. Fortunately for him, there are few better teachers in the country than Johnson.

In addition to Thomas Holley, both Antoine White and Tarow Barney have committed and will enroll in January, giving Penn State additional options and depth at a position that had some fearing for the worst a few short months ago.

It's hard to imagine a much better set of tackles in one incoming class, and with Holley on board, the position looks deep and promising for the foreseeable future.