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Queens native Holley to play for Penn State

Lincoln High School Football player Thomas Holley, from Queens, is slated to attend Penn State. Photo by Steve Solomonson
TimesLedger Newspapers

Thomas Holley thought he made two good moves in the same week.

The Queens native and Abraham Lincoln football star now has two new places to call home after the defensive tackle verbally committed to suit up for Penn State and head Coach Bill O’Brien while he and his family moved from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“It was hectic and it wasn’t even about the football,” the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Holley said. “I’m sitting here moving, packing bags and trying to talk to my aunt and uncle.”

His choice between Penn State and Florida came down to a chance to stay closer to home and the strong bond he forged with Penn State defensive line Coach Larry Johnson, who spoke with him as much about life as he did football.

“When I talked to Coach Johnson, the relationship I had with him was a little bit different,” Holley said. “It was unique. It was something special.

The Nittany Lions’ most valuable player this season was defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. Jones, a potential first round selection in this year’s NFL Draft, told Holley on his official visit in October that Johnson fulfilled all the promises he made to him about improving his game.

The ability to develop talent is important for Holley, who just started playing football last season. He had been a highly thought of basketball player at Christ the King before transferring to Lincoln. Holley has played in just 21 football games in his career and has tremendous upside.

Holley became the first city product to commit to Penn State since the revelation of the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal in 2011. He wants to be a part of bringing the program back to prominence and be the face of the Big Ten.

“I think I cannot only be a part of it, knowing me I have the drive and will to be on top,” Holley said.

He is the No. 3-ranked player at his position and 63rd in the nation by rivals.com. Holley helped lead Lincoln to the Public School Athletic League city conference football city title. Just two years ago, no one knew if any of this would be possible.

“It’s been a little different seeing a kid who can go play for Penn State learning the rules and how to put equipment on,” Railsplitters Coach Shawn O’Connor said.

Holley felt relieved at having the recruiting process and the move over with.

“It’s been a great, great week,” Holley said.

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