Diamond in the rough

The NFL Supplemental Draft is a mere seven days away, while the number of players that have entered this draft are minimal, one player has garnered a serious amount of attention.

Former Georgia Tech running back Tony Hollings was declared academically ineligible and has potentially become the hottest supplemental talent this draft has seen in years.

Representatives for eighteen teams were in attendance Tuesday in Atlanta to view Hollins' workout in Atlanta.

Coming off of anterior cruciate ligament surgery following the Yellow Jackets fifth game of the 2002 season, Hollings appeared to be fully recovered from the injury in the orchestrated workout.

"He did everything that was asked of him and he did not appear to favor the leg," one scout said. "Running drills in the open field, cuts, and catching the ball, he appeared fluid and healthy. My report on him is favorable."

Hollings a junior, playing his first season as running back for Georgia Tech following two seasons as a safety and special teams player, was showing that he had the skills and ability to be one of the top running backs in the country. The switch made by head coach Chan Gailey was one that Hollings welcomed and a move that appeared to be a natural move for the athletic Hollings.

"I was glad that Coach Gailey had the confidence in me to put me in there and show what I could do," Hollings said. "We needed help in the backfield and I was a back in high school, I wanted the opportunity to come out of the backfield. Everything just seemed to fall into place."

At the time of the injury, Hollings had rushed for 633 yards on 92 carries with 11 touchdowns. The 633 yards led the nation and the 11 touchdowns ranked second in the nation.

"There was a reason why this kid (Hollings) was leading the nation in rushing prior to the injury. On film he shows a good burst and good vision. He runs strong and hits the hole with authority," an NFC scout said. "What we have seen of him (Hollings) on film, he could be a player with a future in the NFL. He ran well here and looks to be rehabbed, the tale tell sign will be when he takes some consistent contact on the knee."

While representatives from numerous teams came away impressed with the workout, not every team is willing to part with a draft selection in the 2004 draft for Hollings.

"The kid looked pretty good, we believe that he had allot of work to do before the injury, now he just has that much more to accomplish before he is an NFL ready player," an NFC scout said. "We were here out of curiosity."

More than a curiosity describes the interest of two team representatives in attendance.

"Coming off a draft where the running back position was overall a weak position, a player like Hollings can fill a need for a team that is looking for a running back in 2004," an NFC scout said. "In a position such as ours, if a running back were available for us to groom, we would definitely take a long look, especially if the price is right."

With all the attention placed on the workout, it is expected that a team will relinquish a draft selection in the 2004 draft for Hollings. The round that a player is selected in the supplemental draft, the selecting team is required to relinquish that choice in the 2004 draft.

"There are a few teams that have expressed an interest in the kid (Hollings)," a AFC player personnel assistant said. "Teams like Chicago, Detroit and Houston are known to have taken a serious look at him (Hollings), we know that Dallas has a group here, Pittsburgh stands in the background, but have had some thoughts on him, and New England certainly has taken a long look at Hollings."

"One of these teams will select him, getting a quality running back in the league is not that easy to come by."

As the clock ticks down to the supplemental draft, Hollings' agent Todd France is optimistic about the future of his client.

"Many people have come away impressed with what they saw of Tony (Hollings). This kid has what it takes to be a pro running back, speed, quickness, strength, and desire," France said. "If you look at the running backs selected in this past draft, Tony is as good or better than any of them. The team that selects him next week will get a steal of a player."

In the NFL, a deal or a steal is something that many teams will not pass on.

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