Hollins reflects on career game, future in football


Bryan Bund

Eastern wide reciever Alexander Hollins elevates to grab a touchdown pass in a 55-41 loss to Indiana State at O’Brien Field. Hollins leads the OVC in receiving yards and touchdowns.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

If there has been one silver-lining to the Eastern football team’s season thus far, as they currently sit at 0-3 with three ugly losses under their belts, it has been the play of all-conference wide receiver Alexander Hollins.

Through all the negative Eastern has been through this season on the field, and it has been a lot, Hollins has seemed to be the one constant reminder of what this team can be.

One of three preseason all-conference selections for the Panthers, Hollins leads the Ohio Valley Conference in receptions (26), yards (368) and touchdowns (6). 

In the categories of yards and touchdowns, Hollins has a big lead, and it is not even really close right now. Hollins leads the next best receiver, Josh Pearson of Jacksonville State, by 108 yards and three touchdowns. 

When Eastern was blown out by Arkansas in week one 55-20, it was Hollins who stole the show, putting up 127 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions. And again, last week when Eastern was beaten by Indiana State 55-41, Hollins put up the best game of his career with 10 catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns. In both games when things seemed bleak for Eastern, it has been Hollins who has provided a spark.

“(Indiana State) actually felt pretty good,” Hollins said. “I was actually just going out there and executing, doing what I got to do to help the team. Try to at least get that win but, we came a little short. But I was just trying to put my team in the best position as possible to win games.”

Two of Hollins’ touchdown catches against Indiana State were plays in the front corner of the endzone that required him to go up and over a defender to make the play. On both balls, thrown from quarterback Johnathan Brantley, Hollins displayed incredible body control to put himself in position and great hands to make the catch and come down with the ball. 

“Those (catches) are just things we work on in practice every day, so when game time everything just comes natural for me,” Hollins said.

Hollins has not spent his entire career in the spotlight or being a star, however. As a senior in high school, Hollins had 64 receptions for 1,346 yards and 15 touchdowns. But even those big numbers playing in the Mississippi class 4-A level did not lead to a lot of college offers for Hollins. 

After high school Hollins wound up at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in his home state of Mississippi. There he caught 11 passess for 214 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Then, he landed at Eastern, made himself into an all-conference player with aspirations of making it to the NFL.

“I am still trying to prove to people that I am that type of player, that I am good player, that I can play at any type of level and against any competition,” Hollins said. “Coming out of high school I didn’t have very many offers, with the JUCO I had to work hard and try to get where I am at now, so I am here and I am just going to make the best out of it.”

Getting from high school football to even the junior college level is not easy, but Hollins did it. Going from junior college to division one football is not easy, but Hollins did it. Getting from division one football to the professional level is incredibly difficult, but it is something Hollins wants to do, so who is to say he cannot.

“(Playing in the NFL) is something that I absolutely want to do,” Hollins said. “But, I am just going to keep working hard, keep doing what I have got to do and hopefully that day will come.”

Head coach Kim Dameron has also recognized many of the same things everyone else has seen in Hollins. His physical gifts, his chance to play at the next level, but he has also seen Hollins’ quick grasp of the new air-raid offense.

Hollins has been exposed to a new offensive system this season and two new quarterbacks, but as the stats show, neither one has slowed him down at all. 

“He is extremely talented, and he can run, and he’s getting more and more comfortable with the offense, the quarterbacks are getting more and more comfortable with him and knowing where he is going to be, and they trust him that when they throw it up he is going to be there,” Dameron said. 

Right now Hollins is just focused on beating Tennessee State this weekend and helping his team get to the conference championship game. And to do both of those things, he knows the team as a lot of work to do. But, you would have to imagine it makes the team feel a lot better about turning things around knowing Hollins is lined up on the outside catching footballs.

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]