The official hiring of Brian VanGorder on Monday was not the only coaching news that could impact Notre Dame’s final push for the recruiting class of 2014. Larry Johnson, Sr will reportedly not be part of James Franklin’s Penn State coaching staff which could open up the door for Notre Dame to get back in the race for Thomas Holley.
Thomas Holley, a four or five star defensive tackle recruit depending on what service you look at, selected Penn State last month in large part because of the relationship he developed with Larry Johnson, Sr.
According to the New York Daily News, Holley planned on opening back up his recruiting if Larry Johnson didn’t return as part of the Penn State staff under Franklin following Bill O’Brien’s departure for the NFL.
Whether Holley reconsiders his commitment could very well hinge on whether defensive line coach Larry Johnson returns. The relationship Holley built with Johnson was the driving force behind Holley’s Penn State commitment. Franklin reportedly said Saturday that he will speak with Johnson about a potential return.
“It certainly would be a factor, absolutely,” Holley’s mother Candace said of Johnson’s presence. “You remove that factor, we’re back to square one as far as having no relationship with Penn State. So I don’t know. We’re pretty much sitting back waiting to see what’s gonna happen.”
Now that Johnson is reportedly out at Penn State, expect Notre Dame to make a hard push for Holley in light of last week’s decommitment from Matt Dickerson and the hiring of Vorder. Without a defensive coordinator in place prior to today it would have been difficult for the Irish to make a serious run to get back in the race for Holley.
The plot for Holley thickened even a little more tonight though with Ohio State reportedly moving quickly to attempt to bring on Johnson as part of their staff according to SI’s Pete Thamel.
SOURCE: Ohio State close to finalizing a deal with longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson. http://t.co/E9zOC9CkmG— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) January 14, 2014
Holley visited Ohio State on October 19 and has an offer from the Buckeyes. Given his previous statements regarding his affinity for Larry Johnson in the past, it is only logical to think that the Buckeyes could be a major player here now as well.
The other school to look out for here is Florida. The Gators were reportedly Holley’s other finalist before he selected Penn State last month and also figure to be right in the thick of things again if Holley does indeed open back up his recruitment.
Notre Dame has a history of recruiting defensive line from New York very well. Ishaq Williams was recruited by many programs as a defensive end and his recruitment by Bob Diaco is even more legendary than the former Notre Dame defensive coordinator’s hair. Jarron Jones was committed to Penn State at one time but switched his commitment to Notre Dame and looks like he will be a major contributor in 2014. Current #GoldenArmy14 member Jay Hayes is a Brooklyn native like Holley as well.
Notre Dame needs to add another defensive tackle in this year’s class after the loss of Dickerson and doing just that will likely be at the top of Brian VanGorder’s agenda now that he is officially on the job. Less than 24 hours after being officially named the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, VanGorder finds himself in recruiting battle with Penn State, Florida, and Ohio State. Welcome to Notre Dame, Mr. VanGorder.