FOXBORO, Mass. — It was unlikely enough for Jacob and Cody Hollister both to stick around the NFL as undrafted rookies. For them both to land on the same team? That’s almost unheard of.
Yet the twin brothers both have spent the entire 2017 season with the New England Patriots — Jacob as the team’s third tight end and Cody as a practice-squad wide receiver.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick had plenty of kind words for the Hollisters during his Friday morning news conference, though he admitted he still has a hard time telling them apart when they’re not wearing their respective jersey numbers (47 for Jacob, 81 for Cody).
“That’s just kind of interesting how that comes together,” Belichick said. “You never know, but that’s how it worked out. It’s confusing to have both of them sometimes, you know, when they’re out of uniform. But they’re both really good kids. They work hard, they do whatever you ask them to do, and football’s important to them.”
The brothers played together in high school in their native Bend, Ore., and at Arizona Western College before splitting up, with Jacob going on to star at tight end for Wyoming and Cody becoming a core special teamer at Arkansas.
Both signed with the Patriots after going undrafted this past spring, and each caught a touchdown pass during New England’s final preseason game. Jacob made the 53-man roster out of training camp. Cody, who at 209 pounds is 30 pounds lighter than his brother, was released in final cuts but quickly signed to the practice squad.
“With Jacob and Cody, being at Wyoming and Arkansas and not really being together as much, it’s kind of interesting how that came together,” Belichick said. “But Cody played, obviously, in a good conference with a lot of other good receivers at that position. He was also involved in the kicking game and was a guy who did a lot of things but was kind of a developmental player. We saw him as his best football being ahead of him, but (that he had) a good work ethic.
“Jacob — Wyoming, same thing. Kind of changed positions, bounced around a little bit. Wyoming’s a good program. Obviously, not quite the same conference level as what Arkansas was, (but) it was a good workout. He was a good person to work with — smart, works hard. We felt like he was underdeveloped as a football player and had a good future in front of him.”
Jacob has played in all but one game this season, catching three passes for 37 yards and taking on a larger role on special teams in recent weeks. Cody has yet to crack the 53-man roster but is one of just four players to spend all of this season on the Patriots’ practice squad. (James Ferentz, David Jones and Damarius Travis are the others.)
“They really try to get better,” Belichick said. “They really have improved a lot this year, and they’ve done a good job in their role, like on scout teams being the other player that they’re mimicking for practice and that type of thing. Jacob’s obviously contributed on the field for us, as well. But they’ve improved a lot. I think they both have a good future.”