Back-up plan

Thursday the NFL will hold their supplemental draft. The Bears are considering selecting <!--Default NodeId For Georgia Tech is 356,2003--><A HREF=>Georgia Tech</A> RB <!--Default NodeId For Tony Hollings is 549396,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:549396]>Tony Hollings</A> in the seven-round draft, which is designed to give teams a chance to draft players who have lost their college eligibility since April.

Last week General Manager Jerry Angelo traveled to Atlanta to have dinner with Hollings, who led the NCAA in rushing after four games before a knee injury ended his season prematurely.

"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."

Despite the fact that Hollings is coming back from a torn ligament in his left knee and has only played four games at running he might be the "special" back Angelo has been seeking.

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 5 foot 10 - 216 pound back, rushed for 633 yards on 92 carries and 11 touchdowns. 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."

Although, his knee is healthy, Hollings didn't run at his workout for fear of aggravating the injury, but has run a 4.38 40-yard dash at Georgia Tech.

Teams pick in the same order as last April's NFL draft and any team that selects a player forfeits a 2004-draft choice in the same round. The Bears are among five teams--along with Dallas, Houston, New England and Tampa Bay--that have shown the most interest in Hollings. Representatives from 23 teams came to Atlanta last week to watch Hollings work out and test his knee.

"One of these teams will select him, getting a quality running back in the league is not that easy to come by," an AFC player personnel assistant said

With so much buzz around Hollings he will likely go in the first-round of the supplemental draft, meaning the Bears have to weigh the potential of getting a stud running back versus loosing a potential top selection next year.

"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."

Anthony Thomas and Adrian Peterson will compete for the running back job in training camp, but the team had hoped to add talent in the 2003 draft. The Bears selected Boise State RB Brock Forsey in the sixth-round, but in a weak running back class were unable to add an impact player.

"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."

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."

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