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Mack Hollins is catching on early in Philadelphia

The rookie former Tar Heel is quickly making an impression in training camp.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Minicamp Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

For a couple of years, Mack Hollins was one of college football’s best-kept secrets. He led the nation in yards per reception in 2015, but got almost no press for it, to the point where he and teammates Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard took it upon themselves to show up to a game wearing robes because they were being “slept on.”

Switzer and Hollins showed NFL teams enough to be drafted in the 3rd and 4th rounds, respectively, and while both have been making some headlines, Hollins especially has been turning heads constantly since he laced up for the Heels. The first time was during Organized Team Activities, where he stood out for this act of swagger:

Since then, because there isn’t a lot of news in the NFL during the months of June and July, things have been quiet on the Hollins front. As NFL training camps begin, however, he has picked up right where he left off. Every publication covering Eagles training camp has made special mention of Hollins:

  • Bleeding Green Nation titled their Day 1 recap “All Aboard the Mack Hollins Hype Train,” so it’s not hard to see where they stand. While they do note one drop on a deep ball, they praise his route running on the sideline and ability/willingness to get physical as a receiver, as well as the fact that he caught everything else thrown at him, regardless of how tight the coverage was.
  • CSN Philly says much the same thing in its Day 1 recap, though it’s more reserved about Hollins’ practice. I guess we need some people standing off the hype train.
  • Eagles Wire has Hollins first on their list of Day 2 standouts, in an article titled “Mack Hollins Shines.” They note Hollins’ consistency in the middle of the field, saying his best play of the day was on a slant in the red zone. That’s encouraging for a player with the body to be a red zone threat, but one who hadn’t consistently shown the skill to be one. They also praise his size and ability to use it, unlike some big receivers the Eagles have had on their roster recently.
  • And finally, Philly Voice put Hollins on the cover image of their Day 2 article, captioning it, “Mack Hollins is basically mix of Jerry Rice and Jon Dorenbos [the Eagles’ beloved long snapper/magician). The article itself is effusive in its praise of Hollins:

Obviously, guys like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews, and Nelson Agholor have yet to report to camp, but the clear-cut best receiver the first two days here is Mack Hollins. His size alone gives him a big advantage, but unlike other taller receivers in past Eagles camps like Ifeanyi Momah, he moves very fluidly throughout all his routes. There's no awkwardness. Today, he made a nice catch over the middle from fourth-string quarterback Dane Evans in which he got position then worked inside and made the play. It just looked natural and easy.

• One other Hollins note: He was getting reps today as a long snapper, and actually looked pretty good at it.

We see most of the same refrains about size and working over the middle, but that tidbit about long snapping is new. It’s not totally surprising, given Hollins’ special teams background and willingness to do whatever he needs to do to help the team, but it’s just another small leg up for a player who already seems to be ahead of the pack.

Oh, and also, he’s still not wearing gloves. So not only is he the best receiver at camp, he’s doing it at a disadvantage. It will definitely be interesting to see how he figures into the receiver battle once the full corps show up.