Eagles rookie receiver Mack Hollins became a fan favorite in Philadelphia this season due to his quirky personality. He owns two snakes, rides his bicycle to games and carries a Rubik’s Cube around with him.
But for Bears fans, the most interesting thing about Hollins is the insight he can provide about quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, his former teammate at North Carolina from 2014-16.
“It was great,” Hollins said last week before the Eagles stunned the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. “He was awesome. He’s a natural leader. He’s a guy that’s always going to work. He’s not a guy that talks about something he’s not going to do. He’s not going to tell everybody, ‘You need to be working, you need to be doing this,’ and then be out partying and not doing anything. He’s just not that guy. He’s a guy that really loves the game of football. Football is his thing.”
Hollins and Trubisky both overcame humble beginnings at North Carolina to reach the NFL. The receiver arrived as a walk-on, while the quarterback didn’t earn the starting job until his junior season in 2016.
In their final year together in Chapel Hill, Trubisky set single-season school passing records with 447 attempts, 304 completions, 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns, while Hollins—who was limited to seven games due to a broken collarbone—caught 16 passes for 309 yards and four TDs.
“[Trubisky] worked the same when he wasn’t the starter as he did when he was,” Hollins said. “It was no shock when he became the starter that he was going to ball out. We tried to tell everybody, but nobody wanted to listen.”
Selected by the Bears with the second pick in the draft, Trubisky started the final 12 games of his rookie season, completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 77.5 passer rating. He also rushed for 248 yards and two TDs on 41 carries.
Hollins feels that Trubisky’s greatest strength is his ability to avoid mistakes, something the quarterback displayed at North Carolina in 2016 when he threw 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Tar Heels’ first five games.
“He’s not a guy who forces things,” Hollins said. “He’s not a ‘chance’ guy. He’s not somebody who’s going to play the lottery and hope for the best. And that paid off a lot at UNC. He makes sure every decision he makes won’t hurt the team because that hurts him inside when he throws a pick.”
Hollins was selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the draft, one spot before the Bears chose running back Tarik Cohen out of North Carolina AT. Hollins played mostly on special teams while appearing in all 16 games as a rookie, though he did catch 16 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown.
Hollins enjoyed teaming with Trubisky at North Carolina and insists that the quarterback is just as impressive a person as he is a football player.
“He’s the man,” Hollins said. “He’s the type of guy you can call at 2 a.m. and be like, ‘Oh, dude, I need some help,’ and he would [say], ‘All right, I’m on my way.’ If you go back to UNC and ask about Mitch, there’s not a single person that’s going to say something bad about him.
“He’s been like that since before he became the starter. When he became the starter he didn’t become Mr. Big Time. If I called him right now, he would probably pick up. He’s a great dude. That’s my guy.”