November 12, 2008

How does change impact JUCO DT?

While his future team's season has been an unmitigated disaster, junior college defensive tackle Jonathan Hollins can't complain about his current gridiron campaign.

Hollins' College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita, Calif.) squad boasts an unblemished 9-0 record and just clinched its conference title in the California Junior College ranks with a 42-41 overtime win against Pasadena.

"Everything's going good, working hard and trying to win this national championship in junior college," said Hollins.

The 6-foot-3, 280-pound Hollins learned of Tennessee's decision to remove Phillip Fulmer last week and then later spoke via telephone to Vols assistant coach Greg Adkins.

"I was real saddened because coach Fulmer had been there a long time, and he was a key reason I committed," Hollins said. "But I understand life goes on and he'll be off to better things. Whatever is meant to be is meant to be.

"I talked to coach Adkins last week, and I realized I'm under pressure because there is going to be a coaching change. They made it clear to me that I was still going to have my scholarship. That's a plus for me."

Indeed, Hollins left no doubt about his next collegiate stop. Tennessee?

"Yes, sir," said the profusely polite interior lineman from Redemptorist, La. "I will be there in January."

Until then, Hollins has one primary way of monitoring the Vols' coaching search: via TV.

"I kind of like watch ESPN, listen and watch the college updates," said Hollins, who indicated "several" schools had sought to reopen his recruitment after Fulmer was dismissed. "It's like real crazy, everything's happening so fast. I'm playing it by ear and just seeing what happens. Whatever happens, happens."

The Cougars have one more regular-season game against "rival" Bakersfield before the postseason. Hollins has enjoyed a solid campaign with roughly 40 tackles and seven sacks while playing both defensive tackle and nose guard. He had a dominant 10-tackle performance last month against Hancock College.

"It's hard work and it's been a long road," said Hollins, who has five COC teammates from Memphis' Melrose High School. "I've worked my butt off in the classroom as well as on the football field. I think it's a blessing and I thank God for everything I receive. I'm looking forward to my next destination and that's UT."

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