If you don’t already know who Thomas Holley is, you will soon. The 6-4, 300-pound defensive lineman from Brooklyn’s Lincoln High was the top ranked high school player in New York last year, an athletic beast possessing the rare combination of both size and skills (to read more about Holley, check out our profile on him from last year). This year Holley will be suiting up for the Florida Gators. He’s also agreed to let us in on the process of what it’s like to go from high school senior in the city to college freshman in the swamps. Below is Part I of what is going to be a monthly series. Also be sure to give Holley a follow on Twitter here.—Ed.
TD: Are you officially done with Lincoln yet? Or are you just waiting on graduation and things like that?
Thomas Holley: I graduate Tuesday [the 24th] and leave Wednesday [the 25th] to go down to Florida.
TD: No down time in between. Eager to get to work?
TH: I start working out as soon as I get down there.
TD: So what are the emotions like for you right now? I’d imagine this is what you’ve been waiting for since you actually committed during the winter.
TH: Yeah, I’ve been really anxious. At first it was more excitement and nervous, but now it’s more anxious because I’ve been on the campus a few times, got to hang out with the players, see how classes are, see how meetings and practice go. So now I’m more anxious to get down there and be a part of the Gators movement towards success. That’s where I am now.
TD: While you’ve been up here waiting to graduate, what’s an average day for you like? Just a lot of work outs and preparation?
TH: Yeah, pretty much just getting physically and mentally prepared for school. Nothing too much, I don’t want to overexert myself; I just want to make sure I’m prepared when I get there. I don’t have the same equipment here that Florida has, but I’ve been doing what I can just to be mentally prepared for the changes in the weather, the types of work outs, classes, things like that. So that’s pretty much it.
TD: Are you a guy who works out with headphones?
TH: It depends on the type of workout. If its an individual workout when I’m just trying to get some extra work in, a lot of times I’ll throw on my headphones and listen to music just so I stay focused and don’t get sidetracked. But if it’s a group workout, I won’t have them on so I can hear what people have to say and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
TD: So let’s say we catch you in the weight room later today. What would you have playing then?
TH: There’s this guy that I like to watch on Youtube, CT Fletcher, who used to be a body builder and is now a motivational speaker. I like to listen to his speeches because it pushes you. It makes you go past the point where you can’t go anymore. But if I’m just listening to some music, it’s Drake, Fabolous, guys like that.
TD: You said before you’ve been in touch with the guys down at Florida and I assume you’ve been talking to people all through the ranks of football. Has there been one person who gave you some advice that really stuck with you?
TH: Definitely Dominique Easley [who also played in the PSAL for Curtis High School on Staten Island before going to Florida. He was selected by the Patriots with the 29th pick of this year's draft]. He’s been like a big brother to me and I talk to him as much as possible. Lately I haven’t been able to reach him as much because he’s at training camp with the Patriots but, last time I spoke to him, he just told me ‘stay focused, stay away from the wrong people, and handle your business.’ And he told me who to stick with to improve my game and help the maturation to the next level.
TD: As far as you know, when you get to Florida will they keep you on the defensive line? Any chance they try to convert you to somewhere else?
TH: Right now they’re going to try me on the D-line and hopefully I stay there. Right now I’m 6-4, 302, so I think I should be pretty good for that defensive tackle, defensive end position. And they say with my versatility, my explosiveness, and my drive, my engine I’ll definitely be a good piece for the D-line.
TD: Heading out of New York in a few days, is there one thing you’ll always remember about growing up here?
TH: Ah man, from New York it’s definitely just the ability to go out and always have something new going on. You’ve got the city and just the opportunity to meet so many different people; a lot of celebrities come to the city. It’s definitely just the atmosphere that I’m going to miss.
I’m ready for a change though. I’ve been in New York all my life and it’ll be good to live somewhere else for once.
TD: And how about Lincoln? Is there one moment or thing you’ll remember from there?
TH: I think just the whole transition when I left Christ the King and came to Lincoln and the entire experience of the two years I spent there. That’s definitely it for me. Just the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, and the opportunities I had. It can’t get any better than that, you know? I came in and my whole life changed in a couple of months.