As his second CFL season kicks into high gear in Kamloops, Alexander Hollins has been focused on adding some more meat. Yes, the 6’0 target has worked hard in the gym to ensure the grind of another camp will come more naturally. One of the off-field jobs he took pride in this winter back in Mississippi involved real meat.
“I helped my stepdad process dear meat, wild hogs, cleaning fish,” begins Hollins on this gorgeous day in Kamloops.
“We also processed moose one time. Cut it, clean it, gut it all out, make sure it’s clean and all that, and make sure it’s seasoned well. My stepdad makes patties, steaks, all kinds of meat. You can mix it up, put in bell peppers and cheese, and stuff like that. I used to do it when I was younger. He needed a little help this off-season, so I was there for him.”
Eligible for the three-day rookie camp based on the amount of time spent on the practice roster in 2022, the product of Eastern Illinois is hoping to now process some extra reps which could prove vital once his fellow veterans rill into the tournament capital on Sunday.
“Just getting feet back wet with the team,” says Hollins of the main goals for these three days.
“Being around VA and all of the quarterbacks, being back in the huddle and getting our calls sorted out are the main things. A head start will be pretty good for me. The way those guys work, if they put all that work in it’s contagious. You can’t help to just get on the train and keep moving with it.”
With injuries to the likes of Bryan Burnham and Lucky Whitehead altering the depth chart, Hollins got into four regular season games in 2022 while hauling in 13 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also made his mark in the playoffs with a big touchdown grab from Nathan Rourke to open the floodgates in the Western Semi-Final win over Calgary and also caught one in the loss to Winnipeg the following week. He finished with a total of 102 yards on eight receptions in the playoffs.
All of this being said the meat processor doesn’t expect anything to be handed to him once the veterans begin reporting on Saturday.
“We were so close last year. Now I am going to take it step by step, day by day, and practice by practice, and when the season comes game by game. The end goal is to win the Grey Cup. That’s what we’re building toward.”
And when he wasn’t on the meat schedule with his stepdad, Hollins made sure he did everything in his power to be well-prepared for football. He still had some time for fun as well.
“The off-season was good. There was the training, but I also did plenty of bowling and hanging with family and friends. I played Spades and Dominoes. That’s what I do. I’m just going to continue doing what I can to earn a spot and be as valuable to the team as I can.”
Mini-Camp Day 2 | Athleticism Apparent
It was the squad’s only true ‘two-a-day’ of the three-week Kamloops odyssey as both morning and afternoon sessions took place in the Hillside Stadium heat. The morning session saw plenty of athleticism from the running backs and receivers who perhaps also took advantage of the fact all Lion quarterbacks are taking part in the three-day mini-camp.
The morning one-on-ones saw highlight reel catches from Jake Lampman and Taquan Mizzell, one of five running back hopefuls currently in Kamloops. The team session saw a nice burst of speed from another running back hopeful, Raymond Calais.
Receiver Ron Hunt out of North Carolina A&T demonstrated his yards after the catch ability with a nice burst of speed on a screen pass. Only so much you can take away from a non-padded workout, but still was impressive to see all of these first-year hopefuls put their skills on display.
The athleticism definitely caught the attention of quarterback Judd Erickson who was just added to the roster following an impressive showing at a Seattle free agent camp.
“It’s awesome to get out here and play with a bunch of really good players,” said the new signing out of the University of San Diego.
“It makes everybody kind of rise to the occasion and everybody plays better. So, it’s been really cool.”
Erickson is also looking to take advantage of some tutelage from veterans Vernon Adams Jr., Dane Evans and Dom Davis.
“There is a bunch of really good guys with a lot of really good experience. They’ve welcomed me with open arms,” added Erickson.
“They’ve all told me, ‘any questions you have, ask me. I’m here for you. I’m helping you out.’ It’s been really good to have a good veteran group in there to kind of have my back, answer questions for me, and help me out.”
On the other side of the ball, defensive back Christian Uphoff returned an interception to the end zone in the morning session and also was prominent in the afternoon session which once again featured some high intensity amongst skill position players.