Jonathan Holland committed to Penn State back on May 3rd. He is listed on most recruiting sites as a defensive end, but plays on both sides of the ball in high school. His impressive numbers at the tight end spot this season have led to some question about what position he will play for Penn State. At 6'4", 240 pounds he certainly has the size to be a dominating figure at either spot. But enough from me. Jon gave me a fantastic interview, so let's get right to it.
First off, what led to you choosing Penn State? What stands out to you about the school?
Well first I love the school. It's a great place, has a great campus, great academics, and stuff like that. I love the coaching staff, they're all very down to earth people, very considerate, definitely want to get to know you as a person and not just as a player. By the whole coaching staff reaching out to me, and just keeping in touch with me and talking with my family, the culmination of all of that led to Penn State and that's why I committed.
Was there anything specific that happened that told you "now's the time to commit"?
Pretty much when I committed, I would say was the climax of my recruiting. I was getting a lot of offers, a lot of schools wanted me to contact them, wanted me to call them, message them, visit and all that and recruiting got a little overwhelming. So after I figured out I wanted to get out of it, I wanted to not just find a place that I would commit to to get out of it, but I figured I'd want to get out of it soon so it wouldn't have an effect on my academics and how I play on the field. So I took a couple more visits, and after I visited Penn State I felt like there was nowhere else I needed to visit. I loved my visit there so that's why I committed.
Do you have any plans to take any visits anywhere else?
As of right now, I've been talking to my family about it, just being able to take five free visits is kind of appealing. So I've been talking with them about it right now. I have an official visit to Penn State in January and I'll be at the Penn State-Ohio State game, so aside from that, no visits are set right now.
You've been putting up some very nice numbers at tight end this season so far. Do you have a preference as to which position you'll play in college?
Actually I've been talking to Penn State about it, I've been talking about with all my coaches and my family. I love playing tight end and I love playing defensive end. I'm going to finish out the season, because I play both spots now, and then decide which one I want to play. Penn State already told me it's up to me. They love me at tight end, so they'll take me at tight end. It's really up to me what position I want to play at the next level, but right now I'm kind of leaning a little bit towards tight end. It's a great luxury having [2016 4 star QB] Dwayne Haskins as your quarterback because he makes all of us look good, but I would say my tape at tight end is pretty good so I'll have a fair shot at playing either position at the next level.
Since you mentioned him, let's talk about Dwayne Haskins. It's no secret you've been recruiting him for Penn State, how are you feeling about his position in regards to the Nittany Lions?
It's early, Dwayne is still a junior right now. But he told me that he's narrowing down his decision, and right now Penn State is number one after they offered him a couple weeks ago. So I'm just staying on him, Dwayne knows how I feel about him and I believe he's Penn State for several reasons. The coaching staff and the players that we have already, and the players that we're getting in, I feel like they'd all be great assets for Dwayne if he comes in to play, and hopefully potentially play early. I know it would be a great place for him to end up and also he's be a real weapon to have after I get there and our whole recruiting class gets there. I'll stay on him about Penn State, I mean he never hears enough of it. I feel like he knows where he's going to go, it's just a matter of time so I'll stay on him. Right now it's between Penn State and I think Ohio State, but I know we'll be able to get him, no doubt in my mind.
Does the idea of potentially playing with Haskins again in college help push you towards wanting to play tight end?
I would say so, if you can see from the tape I put out there, Dwayne can really throw the ball. Having that type of chemistry with a player in high school and having that transfer over to college would be great for me personally, and great for our receivers and tight ends also that are gonna be at Penn State. After he committed, he would be able to reel in more people in the 2016 class. So it would be great for Dwayne to come for a lot of reasons, but I would say that's one of them. I didn't get many passes last year at tight end, but towards the end of the season, I started getting more passes thrown at me. I believe that's why I'm getting more [passes] thrown at me this season, because I was able to do great things with the ball in my hand last season. So I feel like I have some solid film right now and hopefully the plays will keep coming and I'll move into college playing tight end.
[I mentioned the well-run chip block plays in his tape and commented on the apparent chemistry between he and Haskins.]
Yeah, that's just something we've worked on in our 7 on 7. Stuff like that, people see the tape and think it's a nice play, but when you've done it so many times in practice and stuff in the season, it really just becomes muscle memory. It's great, like I said, having him on the team, he makes a lot of our players better. So hopefully that will carry over to college and that will make his college team better wherever he decides to go.
Thinking about Penn State's rough stretch right now, is there anything you've noticed that you think you could help with when you arrive on campus?
Well not to blame anything on any specific portion of the team, but I think the o line is just a position that we need more depth along with d line, so that's why me along with Adam McLean, Kamonte Carter, Ryan Buchholz could go in there and help Penn State out along the d line. And the same goes for the offensive line with Ryan Bates, Sterling Jenkins and people like that. I feel like we can help them out the most like that. With both losses, I think that you can take a lot away from the games that were played against Michigan and Northwestern, and you can just build off of the mistakes that you made during the game. One or two losses isn't going to flip any of the commits, we all picked Penn State for various reasons. You could blame it on the sanctions, you could blame it on the lack of depth, but at the end of the day you have to have a 24 hour memory and just forget everything that happened so you can get ready for the next week and the next opponent. I think if the team thinks about that and tries to forget about what happened and take away from the mistakes that they made, they can only get better as the season goes on.
How often do you get to talk to the other commits?
We talk almost every day, we have a giant group chat that they added me to right after I committed. So we talk, I would venture to say every day or every couple of days, just to see what's going on with everybody, we share our Hudls and plays when we have good games and stuff like that. We talk about when we're going to visit again, and just really being there for each other if somebody is getting us down or something like that, we can talk to each other as a group and they're always there to talk to and have someone listen. It's great to have that type of chemistry and to be that close without having met almost everybody in the class, and then when we get there it will be even better, I'm sure it will translate to great things on the field when we're that close off the field. I mean, it's great, I love all the guys that are committed, they're great kids on and off the field, and I'm happy to be playing alongside them in the upcoming years.
How's your team doing this season so far?
The teams' 5-1 right now. Injuries kind of plagued us, but since then we've come back and won five straight. The team is improving every week which is great, and we've come a long way since the first week. I'd have to say the sky's the limit right now, and we can only get better. So the team's doing great, the players are coming along great, and we're just making a lot of improvements every week.
Aside from Haskins and Keith Simms (2016 OLB recruit), is there anybody else that you're recruiting right now?
Isaiah Prince, the big tackle from Roosevelt (MD) is a big target for Penn State. Trevon Diggs, I know he likes Penn State a lot, so I'm trying to get him in the 2016 class. Guys like Ricky DeBerry, I talk to him every now and then. Christian Wilkins, me and him talk every now and then, just trying to keep in touch with these guys, guys that will probably commit close to Signing Day, just trying to keep Penn State in their minds, not trying to pressure them into committing or anything though. Just letting them know that it's always there, reminding them of how they felt when they were there, and convincing them to take more visits up there, it can only get better every time they visit. So just those few guys I'm talking to, hopefully we get them.
Thanks again Jon, for giving an awesome interview. I've embedded both Jon's senior year offensive tape, and defensive tape so you can check it out for yourself. You can follow Jon on twitter at @JonHolland_COO, and be sure to check out all of the videos on his Hudl page.