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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
ESPN 150 OLB Hollins Jr. sticks with UCLA

By Sam Khan Jr.


MISSOURI CITY, Texas -- For ESPN 150 outside linebacker Deon Hollins Jr., it was important to survey all his options.

Though committed to UCLA since March, the Missouri City (Texas) Marshall star insisted that he take official visits to other schools and ensure that he was making the right choice for his college future.

On Wednesday, Hollins made it official and stuck with the team he has been committed to for more than 10 months: the Bruins.

As expected, the four-star prospect signed his national letter of intent with UCLA on Wednesday morning during a ceremony at Fort Bend ISD's Buddy Hopson Fieldhouse. Hollins, who donned a blue tie and blue shoes for signing day, was one of dozens of athletes in the district making their college choices official.

Hollins, the No. 7 outside linebacker prospect in the country and the No. 103 overall player in the ESPN 150, took official visits to Utah and Notre Dame in January in addition to his UCLA trip.

By time he headed to South Bend, Ind., for his final trip, he was only considering the Bruins and the Fighting Irish. While he enjoyed the Notre Dame trip, the Bruins remained the destination for Hollins for several reasons.

"I think it was for three reasons [that I stuck with UCLA]," Hollins said. "First was the scheme and the fit it will be for me in college. Second was the coaching staff -- a wonderful bunch of guys. Every place I've been, UCLA had the most personable [hard-working] coaches and third was academics. It's UCLA."

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Hollins was undoubtedly one of Greater Houston's best defensive players this season. Playing defensive end in Marshall's 4-3 alignment, he finished the 2012 season with 85 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 20 sacks and 31 quarterback hurries. He helped lead Marshall to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the Texas Class 4A Division II state quarterfinals. For his efforts, the Houston Touchdown Club named him its Defensive Player of the Year.

“What is the impact of Hollins Jr's decision?”

Instant Analysis:

What it means for UCLA: The Bruins are flirting with a top-10 class nationally and keeping Hollins on board helps in that effort. Hollins said that the coaches have spoken with him about not redshirting in year one, which means Hollins could have an impact sooner rather than later.

What it means for the teams that lost out: Notre Dame will still have a top-five class, even without Hollins. Though he would have been a nice addition, the Irish already have two highly-touted outside linebackers in ESPN 150 duo Jaylon Smith and Doug Randolph.

Turning point: Even though he took official visits elsewhere, Hollins never indicated that anybody but UCLA led for his services. The Bruins staff stayed on top of things, though, making an in-home visit to Hollins shortly after his Notre Dame official to put the finishing touches on his recruitment.

Surprise (scale of 1-5): 1. Not much of a surprise at all, considering how candid Hollins has been throughout the recruiting process.

Immediate impact (scale of 1-5): 2. If the Bruins aren't redshirting Hollins, he'll get a chance to compete for a spot on the depth chart at outside linebacker. With his skills and motor, he should be able to earn some playing time as a freshman.