December 4, 2008

Hollins talks with Kiffin, remains all Vol

Once it was announced that Phillip Fulmer would not return as Tennessee's head coach, Jonathan Hollins started hearing again from several other programs.

But this week, Hollins heard from the one coach that matters: new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin.

"I got a chance to talk to coach Kiffin a couple days ago," said the big defensive tackle from College of the Canyons Junior College. "It went good, went real good. We talked and we discussed my whereabouts. I'm definitely coming to Tennessee."

A Louisiana native who's never stepped foot on Tennessee's campus, Hollins said he and Kiffin finished their conversation on the same page.

"We talked and he just asked me if I was still set on coming to Tennessee, things of that nature," said the 6-foot-3, 280-pounder. "I told him yes, and we left it at that, on a good note."

Hollins will make his first visit to Knoxville, he said, around the third week of December.

"Like really to best honest, I'm really excited, really excited," Hollins said of checking out the UT campus and facilities in person. "During the last past few weeks, there has been several coaches call and stop by to see me. My heart is with Tennessee and I think I'm making a good decision."

Expecting to compete right away for a starting spot and regular playing time, Hollins indicated it was easy to stick with Tennessee despite the Vols' struggles in 2008.

"With Tennessee, I know the program this year is kind of an off-year but historically every year, Tennessee is a powerhouse, an SEC powerhouse," said Hollins, whose College of the Canyons squad is 12-0 entering this week's playoff game. "With football, it don't get any better than the SEC. Plus I got a few friends on the team at Tennessee."

Versatile enough to have played tackle and end, Hollins says he'll line up wherever Tennessee needs him most.

"Whatever they need, I play all across the line," he said. "Whatever the team needs, I'm ready to get on it."

Though their conversation was brief, Hollins did discuss with Kiffin the potential to play defense under Kiffin's father, current Tampa Bay Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

"He said his father was going to finish up the year with Tampa Bay and we'd see," Hollins said.

Hollins has allowed himself to think about playing for both Kiffins.

"That would be great," he said. "Another thing, there's a lot of avenues in terms of football-wise, coming to Tennessee. A lot of options I could take. With Tennessee, I have a good feeling about it and with the coaches coming in and all the experience, it's going to be a good place for me."

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