Pitt is losing three linebackers to graduation, but replaced them in the 2019 recruiting class with Brandon George, Leslie Smith and Kyi Wright.
With Cam Bright, Saleem Brightwell, Wendell Davis, Anthony McKee, Kyle Nunn, Chase Pine, Elias Reynolds and Albert Tucker all in the fold, they appear to be set at the position.
Despite that, Pitt is showing serious interest in a graduate transfer linebacker that just happens to be a local product.
TJ Holl (6-foot-1, 230 points), who is set to graduate from Colgate, recently announced that he’s looking transfer to another program for his last year of football.
Holl is a graduate and former captain at Seneca Valley High School, where he played for his father Don, who’s the current head coach at Gateway High School. While at Seneca Valley, Holl was a star quarterback, linebacker and was named to the Post-Gazette Fab 22. For his career on offense, Holl totaled over 5,000 total yards and scored a combined 50 touchdowns.
Monday, Pittsburgh Sports Now talked with Holl about his decision to leave Colgate, his career and what he’s hearing from the Panthers.
“I went to Colgate as a quarterback and then switched positions and worked my way up the depth chart,” said Holl. “As a sophomore, I might have led the country in special teams tackles. As a junior, I was leading the country in tackles after Week 4 when I sustained a season-ending injury and received a medical redshirt. Then last year, we had a great year, made it to the quarterfinals, I was Patriot League Player of the Year, an All-American and had my best individual season.”
Holl finished with 121 tackles, 17 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks and 1 interception. He said the decision to transfer was simply about wanting to test himself against higher competition in his final season in hopes of eventually playing professional football.
“I think what I can offer is being a player that’s very instinctive at the linebacker position, someone that knows the game, someone that can lead a defense and someone that consistently has his hat around the ball,” he said.
— TJ Holl (@tj_holl) January 3, 2019
Holl is now essentially a free agent and explained the process and the teams that have shown initial interest.
“I’m with a guy that’s employed by colleges and he looks for JUCO and grad transfers,” said Holl. “He then refers me and sends out my tape to programs. After that, word gets around and then after this recruiting dead period and spring period, I wait to see what teams need a linebacker to come in and play. I have some offers now and we’ll see if more come later and if new teams enter the mix.”
Holl has offers from, Louisville, Tulane, Eastern Kentucky, The Citadel, South Dakota State and North Dakota State. Pitt is one of the many other programs that have reached out but haven’t offered yet.
“I’ve talked to [linebackers coach Rob] Harley,” he said. “My dad, who coaches in the area and is someone that Pitt talks to about his players, has spoken to them. Coach Harley and [Cage] Galupi first reached out and told me that I’m of high interest on their board. They said that right now they’re not looking for defensive guys and are looking to fill up on the offensive side of the ball before the next signing period. I’m high on their board and they’ll keep me updated on if a spot opens up and they can start recruiting another defensive guy again. We’ll see what happens and they promised to be up front with me the entire way and told me to stay patient.”
It should come as no surprise that if a spot opens up and Pitt were to offer Holl, it would be a huge deal to this local kid.
“Coming out of high school, I wanted to go to Pitt, being a WPIAL guy,” he said. “I had a lot of interest in them and I followed them and always rooted for them most aside from the team I played for. It would mean a lot and they’d definetely be really high on my list. We’ll see what happens.”