UVA's Mike Hollins: 'Literally a miracle that I'm here today'
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- When Mike Hollins woke up in the hospital in November, doctors said it would take four-to-six months for him to put socks on, but four months later Hollins is running routes and atop the Virginia depth chart.
"It's literally a miracle that I'm here today," Hollins said speaking with the media for the first time since returning to football, "Just living that out, my mom tells me be a blessing to others, make someone smile, make someone's day every day."
Hollins was walking in the hospital days after suffering gun shot wounds, but the greatest hurdle was the mental strain of losing teammates Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry.
"I expected to recover physically already, so it really wasn't on my mind of how am I going to get back," Hollins said, "It was more 'man, how am I going to even make it to practice without calling D'Sean."
"There is no playbook, there is no plan to how it's done, no routine."
Hollins says he considered transferring, but found the best place to move forward was in Charlottesville.
"Felt natural, I feel like anyone would think about leaving after something like that," Hollins said, "But I also thought what better place to re-find who I am and re-establish my mental than the place that everything took place."
When the fifth-year running back returned for winter workouts, coaches would understand if Hollins faded into the background, he did anything but.
"Just watching him go through the drills, hit the ground, jump up and just the finish, I was like 'oh, Mike is back," UVA running backs coach Keith Gaither said.
Hollins says he is 100 percent in control of his comeback, working with coaches to come up with a plan for each practice.
"Just to watch how he's attacked everything, could easily have made excuses, could easily have over thought things," head coach Tony Elliott said, "But man he's taken it upon himself to respond, he showed perseverance and be resilient and I think a lot of it is for himself, but a majority of it is for his teammates."
Hollins is still limited in practice as he regains core strength, but says athletically there is no drop off from the form he found accounting for 66.6 total yards per game over the final three games of the season.
"Getting out here on the field is just freedom for me, it's freeing for me," Hollins said, "I don't have to think, I just play."
Simply watching Hollins take a rep has provided inspiration to an entire program.
"They call him 'Iron Mike' for a reason, his strength and his spirit, his character," senior running back Perris Jones said, "It really shows through every day out here throughout workouts and practice, it's just motivating."
Throughout Hollins' comeback, the families of his fallen teammates has helped stoke his internal fire.
"They don't leave my mind, so it's a constant motivation, constant drive, constant effort to keep their flame lit," Hollins said, "Keep their legacy going."