UA FOOTBALL

Redshirt no more, lineman set to go

2010-03-23T00:00:00Z Redshirt no more, lineman set to goRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 23, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Jonathan Hollins didn't play a snap in 2009.

Still, it may have been the most important season of his football career.

Every day in practice, Hollins - a defensive tackle on the Arizona Wildcats' scout team - lined up against center Colin Baxter and guards Jovon Hayes and Herman Hall.

Every day, Hollins learned something new.

"I had to come out and play like I had some respect for myself," he said with a chuckle. "If I made a bad mistake, they'd pancake me every day.

"Going up against an offensive line like that helped me be the player I am now."

His redshirt season over, Hollins is now part of the Wildcats' plans. The 6-foot-4-inch, 287-pound transfer from College of the Canyons near Los Angeles is expected to compete for playing time this fall.

Hollins - who chose Arizona after voiding a national letter of intent with Tennessee - has impressed UA coaches during spring drills, which resumed Monday after a 10-day break.

Although Hollins has the size and pedigree to be a star, he is still mastering the finer points of his position.

He got away with less-than-perfect technique in junior college, where he racked up 75 tackles, 12 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles in two seasons.

"Jonathan gets better and better," coach Mike Stoops said. "He's progressed, and he's gotten stronger as a defensive lineman. Your strength and understanding leverage is critical.

"Once you get to this level, your technique is probably the most important aspect of your game. Jonathan seems to get better in his technique."

Hollins said he isn't concerned with starting as much as making progress.

So far, he's developed nicely.

"However I can help the team, I'm down," he said. "If they put me at punter, hey, I'm ready to go."

Grigs back

Nicolas Grigsby returned to practice Monday, 16 days after suffering a right hamstring injury in practice.

The Wildcats' starting tailback worked in with the first-team offense during a two-hour workout inside Arizona Stadium; he even delivered a few crushing blocks.

"I finally got to 'throw the stick,'" Grigsby said with a smile. "I got to hit some big guys, so I'm excited about that."

Grigsby has added 10 pounds of muscle this off-season, a move he hopes will help him stay healthy as a senior.

Grigsby suffered a separated shoulder in Week 4 of the Wildcat's 2009 season, and never fully recovered. He rushed for 567 yards on 79 carries in a little over five games.

Grigsby said he probably won't be 100 percent healed from the shoulder and hamstring injuries for a few more weeks.

"That's the thing with hamstrings - they heal when they want to heal," he said.

Haircut

Nick Foles returned from spring break Monday with a cleaner look.

Arizona's starting quarterback trimmed his trademark long hair and ditched the beard he had been sporting since midway through last season.

Foles said the shorter hair "feels good."

"I'll let it grow out a little bit, and then I'll probably get it cut again," he said.

Up next

• What: UA football spring game

• When: April 10, 1:30 p.m.

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