UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio -- When the opportunity came for John Carroll football coach Tom Arth to add a talented defensive back to the roster and bolster the Blue Streaks’ secondary prior to the 2013 season, he did not waste it.
Rather, Arth brought in transfer student-athlete Mike Hollins, a native of Maple Heights, Ohio, and four years later, the senior cornerback has earned the reputation as a ball hawk for one of the country’s best defenses, which propelled the Blue Streaks to their first outright Ohio Athletic Conference championship since 1989.
“He’s been competing for us since his first year here,” Arth said. “He’s been out on the field for four years, and he’s a captain for us now. He’s somebody that’s just done so much for John Carroll in so many different ways. The way that he’s matured and the way that he’s grown throughout his four years on our campus is something that I’ll always remember. He’ll always mean so much to me because of what he’s been able to accomplish here.
“Mike’s a hard worker. Mike’s an incredibly hard worker. He’s very, very focused on his technique and doing everything the right way. He studies film. He knows our opponent inside and out, and I think it’s probably a combination of all those different variables that go into having a great DB.”
A two-time first-team All-OAC selection likely heading for a third postseason honor, Hollins collected five interceptions through 10 regular-season games, and returned them for 41 yards.
In addition to leading the Blue Streaks in interceptions, Hollins proved to be the top ball hawk in the OAC.
“I think it’s really our coaching staff,” Hollins said. “Our coaching staff puts us in the right position, and the way they go through the week and the way we watch film is phenomenal. It allows my job to be much easier. It allows me to see the ball and go make a play on it.
“It’s easy to do when you’re in the right place. Coach calls the right call and you’re in the right place, so it makes my job much easier.”
With five interceptions already to his credit, Hollins is anxious to collect more takeaways for a defense that limited opponents to just 12.4 points per game during the regular season.
However, that will be easier said than done when the Blue Streaks begin postseason play against the Olivet Comets in the first round of the postseason, which gets underway at John Carroll’s Don Shula Stadium today.
In Olivet, the Blue Streaks take on a team that averaged 32.6 points and 381.0 total yards per game on its way to a 9-1 record and first outright Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title since 1974.
“It’s a great opportunity, but at this point, our prior experiences don’t mean anything,” Hollins said. “What we try to do is focus on our process and move forward as a unit and as a group.”