With Walk-on Mentality, Mack Hollins Wants to ‘do It All' as Eagles' WR and Special Teamer

It's hard to miss Mack Hollins when the Eagles step onto the field. At 6-foot-4, 221 pounds and gloveless, he physically stands out among an 11-man wide receiver group that has been one of the best in training camp thus far. 

But it's also his number that you notice.

With the exception of a two-game stint by Jonathan Krause back in 2015, no wideout has worn 10 since DeSean Jackson. And at first, it would seem ludicrous to draw any comparisons between the pair - Jackson is six inches shorter, nearly 50 pounds lighter and runs a 40 almost two-tenths of a second faster than the Birds' rookie.

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Then again, Hollins and Jackson both excelled as big-play threats and special teamers during their collegiate careers. So it's only fitting that the newest No. 10 on the outside is ready to make an immediate impact in one of those areas.

"[I love special teams because] it's just the 'you get one shot and you're done' mentality,'" Hollins said. "On offense, multiple times you can get first downs. On special teams, at least in college, we called it one play and out. It's your one opportunity to go all out - if you mess up, it's a big play for the other team and if you execute, it's a touchdown. You don't even need the offense or defense if you can score every time, especially if everybody does their job."

The 2017 fourth-round pick is not expected to see a ton of the field when the Birds have the ball this season. He's instead spent most of his time in practice with the second-team offense and offensive coordinator Frank Reich noted Saturday the coaches want Hollins to start out this year as a backup receiver.

Still, when the team was working on special teams drills, Hollins - as a gunner - repeatedly made easy work of Najee Goode, a guy who's been a piece of the Eagles' top-tier special teams unit in three of the last four seasons. And for a guy who made North Carolina's football team as a walk-on back in 2013, it's about having that same unproven mentality once again.

"Just from how I was raised, my parents have always told me you're going to work for whatever you have. Being drafted doesn't mean anything to me really," Hollins said. "Yeah, I'm glad that I got drafted, but in my mind, I'm a walk-on again. I'm undrafted and I have to prove myself again every day on the field and in practice and in the meeting room and the film room. Everything I do has to be as if I can get cut when I walk back in the room, so that's my mentality really with anything in football or outside of football."

Even though Hollins may not get many chances this year to show off as a deep threat for Carson Wentz, he showed time and time again in college that he will make the most of his limited opportunities. With the Tar Heels, he appeared in 46 straight games before a fractured clavicle last fall cut his senior season short, but in his three and a half years, Hollins averaged fewer than two receptions a game.

Yet, the Rockville, Maryland, native's 20 touchdowns rank third in North Carolina history and his 20.6 yards per reception are the most in program history - he led the nation with 24.8 yards per catch as a junior.

So the opportunity to learn from a trio of NFL veterans in Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews should pay dividends for a guy who wants to be more than just a deep-play weapon at the next level.

"I think I can do it all. The whole wide receiving corps can do it all because we have intelligent guys," Hollins said. "[But] it always helps to have somebody who's seen the ropes before. You don't take a trip up Mount Everest without a guide, so it's especially good to have three guys who have excelled at their position."

Ironically enough, it'll be yet another season that Hollins is catching passes from a No. 2 overall pick. After working with now-Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels' scout team, the pair had the chance to play together on the field last year, linking up for four scores on just 16 receptions.

And although Hollins' reps with Wentz have been limited to this point, it's not hard to draw comparisons between the pair.

"From what I can tell right now, it's both above the neck," Hollins said. "They're both so intelligent, they both see the field so well and that's impressive for a young guy to see the field well at such a young age. Obviously, there are guys that have played for four or five years in the league and you can see the field and everything slows down, but Carson and Mitch can see things so well."

Now, let's be real. Hollins isn't D-Jax and it's quite likely he never will come even close. But coincidentally, the two share a couple of similar skill sets, a jersey number and of course, a love for the crowd.

"[My favorite game is] any game where it's packed out," Hollins said. "We played at Clemson, at Notre Dame, even I sometimes like being at rival stadiums because when you score, it gets silent."

Eagles fans can only hope he'll be doing more of the same in Washington, North Jersey and Dallas sometime soon.

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