By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
You know that annoying feeling when you just get out of the shower and your phone rings? It happened to Mack Hollins, except it was a call he’ll never forget.
The call came from the Philadelphia Eagles to inform Hollins, the wide receiver from the University of North Carolina, he was their fourth-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“I had just gotten out of the shower, I mean it was probably 30 seconds to a minute, when they called,’’ Hollins said with a laugh.
Hollins had watched the first two nights of the NFL Draft at home in Rockville, Maryland, and saw his college quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, go No. 2 overall to the Chicago Bears and then some other teammates and friends go in the first three rounds.
“I wasn’t sure where I was going to go,’’ Hollins said. “And to be honest, I didn’t care. I knew wherever I went, I was going to go out and work hard and do what I could to help my team.’’
That’s been the case his entire playing career. Hollins was not recruited out of Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland, and spent a prep year at Fork Union Military Academy where his quarterback was Cardale Jones, the former Ohio State standout, now with the Buffalo Bills.
Even after that year at Fork Union, he was still asked to walk-on at North Carolina where, by the end of his freshman season, he was one of the special teams captains, a spot he held for all four years with the Tar Heels.
From college walk-on to team captain to NFL draft pick.
And it was never easy for Hollins. Even during his senior year with the Tar Heels when he averaged a NCAA-best 24.8 yards per catch, he suffered a broken clavicle, which ended his season prematurely.
He was healthy enough to begin his pre-Draft training and went out to Irvine to prepare for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
“I really didn’t know what to expect before the Combine,’’ Hollins said. “Then I met with just about everyone there. After the Combine, and at our Pro Day, you started to see some teams show more interest.’’
One of those teams was the Eagles.
“Definitely,’’ Hollins said. “I met coach (Mike) Groh (the Eagles wide receivers coach) twice and I really enjoyed talking to him. I thought it would be good if that’s where I went and it worked out pretty well.’’
Hollins, at 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, has excellent size for a wide receiver and in yards-per-catch average shows he can get downfield and be a deep threat. His prowess on special teams, as a four-year captain, is also attractive.
The Eagles liked all of that about him and made him the first of two wide receivers (West Virginia’s Shelton Gibson was the second) they would select to add to a new-look group under the newly-hired Groh.
“It’s kind of been what I expected from a workload aspect,’’ Hollins said of his initial reaction to the NFL. “What I didn’t expect was how the rookies and the vets would blend in so quickly. We all kind of mix in together and that’s been great. I think I’m in the right place.’’
And it all started with the phone call, just as he got out of the shower.
“When that call comes, first it’s a relief,’’ Hollins said. “The wait is over and you know where you’re going. Then, it’s a dream come true. I mean everyone who’s ever played, has watched the Draft and thought one day that might be you, and then it is you.’’