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Virginia running back Mike Hollins was playing with a heavy heart on Saturday, along with the rest of his teammates. Just five months ago, Hollins survived a gun shot wound to the stomach during a tragic incident that took the lives of three teammates.
The Cavaliers paid tribute to D’Sean Perry, Lavel Davis and Devin Chandler before the game with a moment of silence. The end-zone was painted with their names, making the touchdown that would come later in the game a fitting way to remember the trio. Not only did Mike Hollins get the first rush of the game, he later scored a 1-yard TD in the same end-zone, patting the ground and celebrating with his teammates.
A Long Road Back For Virginia Teammates, Mike Hollins
It’s certainly been a long road for the Virginia football team, especially Hollins. Tony Elliot spoke about the preparations put into place with their sports psychology team, in case players were overwhelmed with all of the tributes and reminders on Saturday.
“There’s been constant reminders, and there will be more as we go forward,” Tony Elliot discussed postgame. “We talked about it, had our sports psychology team there to work with them on some exercises in case they got stressed or overwhelmed or anxious. But in terms of that first touch, is just came about organically.”
Though he did not play in the second half, Mike Hollins finished the game with 40 yards and the one touchdown. After the game, Hollis took to social media to thank the fans for their support during these difficult times.
First Time Playing In-Front Of Fans Since November Tragedy
Virginia cancelled its last two games of the 2022 season, with the spring game being the first time since the shooting that the team has played in-front of fans. It was certainly an emotional experience for the team and head coach Tony Elliot.
“It was a little emotional at first. You walk down and you have a chance to see the beautiful graphic that was designed and then placed on the field by the Grounds crew, and a little emotional when you think about it.
“We’re the ones that are fortunate to be on the grass where three young men are not fortunate to be on the grass,” Tony Elliot said postgame. “And then their families will not have a chance to see them play on the grass again – so it kind of puts it in perspective.”
Following the tragic shooting, Hollins spent a full week in the hospital undergoing surgeries for the gunshot wound he suffered while rushing back to the bus in hopes of helping his teammates.
Now, the Virginia running back is doing his best to continue honoring his friends that were tragically killed that night in November. The fact that he is back on the field and playing is a testament to his heart and determination, as he will continue to play the game that he loves.
Virginia will open the 2023 season in Nashville against Tennessee.