|by Nikki Steele|
The 2014 defensive tackle prospect out of Brooklyn (NY) Abraham Lincoln has only played in eight football games in his entire life, but he is garnering the attention of big name programs from all across the country.
Holley told TigerNet that he wanted a change of pace after playing basketball for the last eight years, and decided to give football a try, after of course convincing his mom that he wouldn’t get hurt.
“This is my first time playing football. I was a basketball guy,” Holley told TigerNet Monday evening. “A lot of people don’t know that. I’ve been playing basketball since I was in the third grade. I was nationally ranked. When I moved to New York, I decided to try football out.
“I decided to play football just to try something new, but maybe not get as serious about- just to have exposure to something else. I started loving the game. It took me a while to convince my mom to let me play because she was scared that I was going to get hurt. When she finally decided to let me play, big things happened. It’s funny because she’s been to every single one of my games, but she was the one that didn’t want me play.”
Holley first realized his potential on the football field when UConn offered him a scholarship before he ever put the pads on.
“I had never played football, but UConn had been watching me play basketball since I was a freshman and my sophomore year they came to a game and told me that if I decided to play football they would offer me a scholarship if I decided to play football, so I thought that maybe I could do something with this,” he said.
With only one season under his belt, Holly wants to focus on the mental and physical aspects of the game as soon as his basketball season concludes.
“My basketball team is going to All-State this weekend and after that basketball is over,” he said. “Once that’s over, I’m just going to focus on football and get my body right- get stronger, faster, cut down my body fat, and just learn the game of football as far as techniques and the game- the different plays, or what certain things mean. My main goal for next year is just to learn.”
The whirlwind of offers began last week as Holley picked up offers from some of the top programs.
“It’s been big. It happened so fast. I got Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, and Ohio State- all of the big schools,” he said. “It has been amazing because I never expected it. I figured I would get a few offers, but I didn’t expect this to happen. It just means that I must be something special because I’ve only played eight games in my whole life, and to get offers like that, you can’t put that into words.”
After playing phone tag for some time, the Clemson coaches finally got in touch with Holley to deliver the good news.
“It was actually funny because it was a big couple of days for me,” he said. “The day before I talked to Clemson, I had Maryland, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and Baylor. The following day was Clemson. Clemson had been contacting my coach back and forth, kind of playing phone tag and they were finally able to reach me.
“They asked me if I had ever heard of Ebenezer [Ogundeko] and I told them that I had heard of him, but didn’t actually know him. They told me, ‘Ebenezer knows about you.’ I was like, ‘that must be big to have people that know who I am.’ I was talking to them for a while and they told me that they definitely think I would fit in their program and me and Ebenezer together could do a lot of damage on the field. Then they gave me the offer. Right after that Alabama called and I was talking to them. I had a pretty big three days. It was really crazy, but really exciting.”
Holley came away impressed with Clemson defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks after their first conversation. Holley said that Brooks showed an excitement that Holley hasn’t seen from many others.
“I talked to a few coaches that day and I talked to Coach Brooks,” he said. “He was a very nice guy and very, very fired up about me, which means a lot. Everybody can say we want you, but when a coach keeps calling you and sending you letters, it shows that they are fired up about you and really want you. I was very excited to talk to him and a lot of their other coaches. It seems like a good program and coaches that really care and that was big for me.”
Clemson offered the 6-5, 290 pounder as a defensive tackle, but Holley said that he is willing to play wherever a coach needs him.
“They offered me as a defensive tackle. I can actually play fullback, too, at 6-4 or 6-5 and 290,” he said. “That just shows you how athletic I am to be able to play that position. I played it a little bit at the end of last season, but I’ll probably play it a little more this season and be running the ball a little bit. With the way my body is and my athleticism, I can play multiple positions. If somebody can teach it to me, I’ll learn it. I pick up things really fast. Whatever a coach needs me for, I’m able to do it.”
“I don’t have a group of favorites yet. I grew up watching basketball. I have favorite basketball schools, but not football,” he said. “I watch college football, but I wasn’t that into it. Lately, I’ve started watching college football and really started paying attention. I don’t have any favorites as of right now. I kind of just want to wait until I can visit different schools so I can really get a feel of what they are about first hand.”
With the list of offers currently at 17 and growing, Holley hopes to set up a visit to Clemson and various other schools for this spring and summer.
“Definitely. If I can’t make it in the spring, I’ll definitely come down in the summer time. It’s important to me to visit a lot of these schools to really get a feel for what they are about as far as the coaching and just the school itself,” he said. “I definitely plan on going to Clemson for a visit and a couple of other schools. I just have to set stuff up.”
Nikki Steele can be reached at email@example.com