TAMPA – If you don’t know who DeAndre Hollins is yet, you will awfully soon. The rising junior cornerback is taking over a starting role at Jefferson. He’s lengthy at 6’2″, 180 lbs. and is a pure athlete determined to become the best.

After playing in three games as a freshman, Hollins learned behind the upperclassmen as a sophomore while totaling three tackles in 10 games. He said it was a hard environment to make a name for himself.

However, Hollins says he feels he learned how to be a leader for his team from the older guys. Coming off an impressive spring performance in the jamboree against Plant and Robinson, Hollins is looking forward to the regular season.

“The spring game gave me a lot of confidence,” Hollins said. “To be honest, I was a little nervous because we hadn’t had a game situation with me as the starting corner. I felt a lot of pressure, but then when I went in I became confident.”

Hollins recorded three tackles, a blocked field goal and a pass breakup (video here) in his first real action at cornerback in the spring jamboree.

His rise into the starting lineup is an impressive one considering he didn’t start playing football until his freshman year. In fact, Hollins never played any organized sports growing up due to transportation issues.

“I knew of the positions and I knew of the rules, but I didn’t know what they actually meant until the first week of practice was over,” he reminisced about the start of his football career. “Then things starting to come to me. “

The Jefferson coaching staff moved him all over his freshman year between defensive end, tight end, wide receiver and safety. As a sophomore, he played as a safety, a position he says is similar to cornerback for him.

“Safety gave me the keeping your eyes on your threat type of technique that a corner should have. My backpedal was high as a safety, so when I moved over it remained high. Now, I have to beat that habit and learn how to stay low and get better technique.”

Going up against two of the top players in Hillsborough County, Miami commit quarterback Cade Weldon and highly sought after rising junior wide receiver Jermaine Eskridge benefits Hollins greatly.

“Jermaine [Eskridge] is one of our best receivers, so if I can lock up one of our best receivers then I feel like I’m good enough to lock up anybody…

“Cade [Weldon] is very precise and accurate. When he throws the ball, it’s getting to his receiver. You have to be a great defensive back to break up the pass.”

Hollins says he feels a turnaround coming for the Dragons after they’ve been kept out of the playoffs the past two seasons.

“We have a better scheme to our defense. We know what we have to do and we know who we have to beat. Everyday in practice we just do everything better than the other teams.”

Seventh-year head coach Jeremy Earle owns a 50-21 record which is highlighted by a 3A state title in his debut season (2010) guiding the Dragons to a 15-0 record. Hollins says the team feeds off of Earle’s high confidence level.

“He’s [Earle] a very exciting and uplifting coach. You could be doing something wrong and he’s still like “get up man, your good.” He’s very inspiring and he gets to the point.”

As for his biggest strengths, Hollins says that is his speed, ball skills and patience at the line. He’s looking to perfect his technique this summer.

Hollins has five offers on his table from Tennessee, Louisville, South Florida, Bowling Green and Kentucky.

The latest came from Kentucky last Wednesday. He said he was surprised when Tennessee offered because it was his first SEC offer and he thinks highly of the school.

He plans to visit all the schools that have extended him offers in time. On top of his offers, Hollins recently drew interest from powerhouse programs Alabama and Ohio State.

Hollins admits that when he first started football that he was playing it to just play it, but he quickly fell in love with the game when he started to get the hang of everything.

“It’s a fun sport to me. I use it to relieve my stress. When I get on the field, I just do my best and sweat it all out. Practice always lifts me up, I could be angry all day and then come back leaving practice happy. Just being with my team is fun.”

He says he really wants to take this journey all the way to the NFL while helping others off the field as a responsible leader.

It is hard to miss Hollins on the field, the kid sticks out like a sore thumb as a big and crafty cornerback. I really enjoy the way he plays on each and every snap.

When DeAndre Hollins is able to put together a full body of work you’ll be impressed I can promise you. The Dragons defense is going to help this team turn the ship around with Hollins serving as a top leader.

***

Quick Hitters

Favorite player to watch – Josh Norman, Darrelle Revis
Playlist before games – YFN Lucci “Unstoppable”
Favorite movies – Scary movies
Fun fact about you that you think no one knows – “I use to rap a little bit. My name was D-Raw. I like to dance as well, the Dab, Hit Dem Folks and the Whip are some of my favorites.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Mayday”

Great pass breakup by Deandre Hollins. This kid is legit. @D_Hollins15 pic.twitter.com/vLicn9yhLo


Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at jake.perper@hotmail.com.

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