UCLA signee Deon Hollins Jr (Courtesy of Deon Hollins’ public Twitter page)
Continuing on in Go Joe Bruin’s 26-part recruiting profile series, we take a look at 2013 UCLA football signee and 4-star defender Deon Hollins.
According to 247Sports, Hollins plays both outside linebacker and defensive end—a level of versatility that will make him a valuable asset at the collegiate level. For that reason (among many others), the 6’2″, 225-pound bruiser from Missouri City, Texas was heavily recruited by a vast collection of programs. In addition to the Bruins, Hollins’ list of suitors included national powers like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Michigan State. Needless to say, it was a major win for Jim Mora to snag Hollins away from all those other programs.
Because of a logjam in the UCLA front seven, Hollins is expected to take a redshirt as a true freshman. The Bruins’ defensive line and linebacking corps both have three senior starters returning, as well as a number of backups with experience to lean on. However, UCLA will lose Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt, Cassius Marsh, Seali’i Epenesa, Keenan Graham and Owamagbe Odighizuwa to graduation after next season, so Hollins won’t have to wait for long.
And though the absence of those aforementioned players will be tough to swallow for UCLA fans, the silver lining will be Hollins’ ability to take the field. The Semper Fi All-American had an absolutely monstrous year as a junior in high school, notching 70 tackles, including 22 for a loss and 16 sacks (according to Rivals). The standout 2011 season earned Hollins Defensive Player of the Year honors in his district, which is no small feat in a football-crazy state like Texas.
With Hollins leading the way, the Bruins’ defensive front could maintain its strength even after the mass exodus next year. Hollins will join an already talented crew that includes Ellis McCarthy, Aaron Porter, Jeremy Castro and fellow 2013 signee Kylie Fitts. With that much skill in the trenches, it’ll be a chore to move the ball on the ground against the Bruins.
If Mora and the coaching staff can continue to recruit at a high level, as well as develop the talent they have, the UCLA defense will be a known entity on the national scale. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Hollins will be an important piece of the puzzle.
Photo courtesy of Deon Hollins’ public Twitter page, see the original here. No rights reserved.