“Who is this Jacob Hollister kid?”
That was a common question among Patriots fans Thursday night after Hollister, a rookie tight end out of Wyoming, burst onto the scene with seven catches for 116 yards in New England’s first preseason game of 2017.
One day after the Patriots’ 31-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach Bill Belichick shared the story of how Hollister — and his twin brother, wide receiver Cody — wound up in Foxboro in the first place.
“Well, we started with somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 players (on our radar),” Belichick said Friday in a conference call with reporters. “Whatever it is, it’s a very high number of all the draft-eligible players in the senior class at all the different schools. Wyoming had a very good football team, had a number of pro prospects. They have some more this year. So that’s no secret. It’s a good program, and they play good competition.
“(Jacob Hollister) had a good spring workout. We also worked out his brother at Arkansas, and Jacob actually trained at Arkansas with his brother in the spring. Obviously, he was pretty committed to playing football, was in a good training program. And when the opportunity came after the draft to fill out our roster, he was one of the players that we approached and were fortunate to be able to sign.”
Hollister caught passes of 38, 19, 18, 16, 15 and 9 yards in his Patriots debut. On one particularly impressive reception, he hurdled clear over a Jaguars defender, then drew a 15-yard penalty when another Jag speared him with the crown of his helmet.
It was an all-around stellar performance for a player who is fighting for a spot as the Patriots’ third tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen.
“(Tight end is) not an easy position in our offense,” Belichick said. “There are no easy ones. But he’s done a good job of adapting to the things that we’ve asked him to do. He’s learning. He’s got a long way to go. There are a lot of things that he needs work on in all phases of the game, running game, passing game, kicking game.
“But he’s a hard-working kid. He?s out there every day, and he’s made improvement. He had an opportunity to make a couple of plays (Thursday) night and made them, so that was good.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images