Holler leaving Penn State for Delaware - LancasterOnline: Sports

Holler leaving Penn State for Delaware

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Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 1:23 pm | Updated: 1:07 am, Wed Sep 11, 2013.

This week, he did something about it.

The McCaskey grad asked for and was granted a release from his athletic scholarship and is leaving the Nittany Lions to transfer to Division I-AA Delaware.

“I tried to fit in at Penn State, but it didn’t work out,” Holler said. “All I can say it that I’m excited about going to the University of Delaware to try and help the Blue Hens.”

Rumors of Holler’s move started popping up on Penn State fan Web sites as early as a week ago.

Penn State granted his release on Tuesday, and he’s set to report to Delaware on July 6.

“They literally just finished the paperwork,” Holler said. “I haven’t even talked to the coaches at Delaware yet.”

But Holler said he knew the coaches there were expecting him.

The former Pennsylvania Lineman of the Year and Big 33 participant recently met with Paterno to discuss his future with the team.

At that meeting, Holler, who steadfastly denied rumors of a possible transfer earlier this spring, informed Penn State’s coaching staff that he was packing his bags and heading south.

He never played a down in a regular-season game for the Nittany Lions.

“I have no regrets at all as far as Penn State goes,” Holler said. “It’s a wonderful place and I really did have a wonderful time.

“It just didn’t work out. Sometimes that happens.”

Holler had a topsy-turvy three years in Happy Valley. He constantly battled a weight issue — an issue that perturbed Paterno.

At a press conference prior to the annual Blue-White Game on April 23, the veteran coach openly criticized the 6-5, 324-pound offensive lineman for not getting in shape.

“Joel is OK until he gets home and has his mom’s home cooking,” Paterno said. “He’s too heavy. He’s 325 (324 according to Penn State’s spring practice media guide) and we want him to be 305.

“We’ve been on Holler for two years … ‘Get your weight down!’ He’s lost 10 pounds.”

The former McCaskey star has lost more weight than that, actually.

Before the Big 33 Classic in 2002, he tipped the scales at 375, so he’s lost at least 50 pounds since high school. Still, he’s nowhere to be found on Penn State’s depth chart.

He saw limited time in the Blue-White Game — which was shortened by rain — and he truly was a player without a position.

Holler didn’t even make the three-deep list for the annual spring scrimmage.

He’s bounced from guard to tackle since arriving at Penn State, where Holler landed after a standout, well-decorated career at McCaskey.

He was a two-time Lancaster-Lebanon League Lineman of the Year and he was one of the most highly recruited offensive lineman in the country when he started making recruiting trips in 2001-02.

“It has been a struggle,” Holler admitted after the Blue-White Game. “I got down to 330 last year, and I’m at 320 right now. I think anybody in my position would be frustrated — not with anybody else, but with themselves.

“I need to get where I need to be, so I’m trying to buckle down and get where I need to be.”

Where Holler will be this fall is at Delaware, a I-AA powerhouse that is one year removed from a national championship season.

Another player with L-L League roots, former Manheim Central star Mike Byrne, is expected to be a key contributor on Delaware’s offensive line in the fall.

Things started going south for Holler in State College when he reportedly flunked a wind-sprint drill during summer workouts in 2004.

He fell from second to fourth on the depth chart last fall — when Penn State stumbled through a 4-7 season — and at one point Paterno toyed with leaving Holler off the 105-man roster.

“Being lighter will make me a better football player — I can’t argue with that,” Holler said after the Blue-White Game. “I’d love to be 10 or 15 pounds lighter. I’m trying. It’s just taking a while.”

It’s taking too long for Penn State’s liking, apparently. That’s why Holler is shoving off to Delaware, where, according to NCAA rules, he’ll be able to play right away as a sophomore eligible.

“Joel Holler is a good, tough kid,” Paterno said before the Blue-White Game. “But if he’s over 305, he can’t play, because he’s not that good of an athlete. I think he knows that, but he needs the discipline.

“If he doesn’t get his weight down, people are going to ask me what happened to Holler.”

He’s headed out of State College and is on the road to Delaware, that’s what.

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