Thomas Holley has a lot in common with a couple of former Gators greats — Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd — at defensive tackle. And, in time, he might be the best of both worlds.
Holley, one of the top defensive tackles in the 2014 cycle, hails from Easley's old New York City stomping grounds, but comes from Brooklyn, while Easley's from Staten Island. He attended Abraham Lincoln High School, transferring there from Christ The King, a athletic powerhouse that produced former Florida point guard Erving Walker; Easley went to Curtis High School.
And after committing to Penn State, the school Easley was ticketed for before an eleventh-hour offer from Florida, Holley flipped to Florida in January, shortly after former Nittany Lion coach Bill O'Brien departed for the NFL and Larry Johnson left for Ohio State. Holley, a consensus four-star player, pocketed offers from schools such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame and Penn State, among others, during his recruiting process.
And this is why Holley got those offers.
There's no questioning Holley's ability as a defensive tackle. Holley ranks as one of the top defensive tackles in the country and could be an immediate contributor at almost any program, given his blend of power and quickness. He's 6'4", and carrying about 285 pounds, and will be a force once he gets into a collegiate weight program, likely blending that Floyd-like power with reflexes that give him something closer to Easley's unfathomable quickness.
At a lot of schools, Holley would be an impact freshman. Yet Holley walks into a good situation at Florida, as the Gators return a slew of defensive tackles: Leon Orr and Darious (Bear) Cummings will start, and Joey Ivie, Caleb Brantley, and Jay-nard Bostwick will back them up, with possible help from Antonio Riles inside. Despite Holley's talent and upside — he's new to football, and has played more basketball in his life — I expect Will Muschamp to do with his touted tackles what he did in 2013 — when Bostwick, Brantley, and Ivie came in behind Easley, Orr, Cummings, and Damien Jacobs — and redshirt Holley. The disparity between the incoming talent and the more experienced talent Florida brought in last cycle will be too great for the true freshman to contribute immediately on the defensive line.
Down the line, though, Holley could be a monster.