GREENLAND — Greenland High School Class of 2022 defensive end JJ Hollingsworth pulled in an offer from the University of Arkansas on Monday.
Hollingsworth, 6-4, 250, is still excited about the offer and talked about it on Wednesday.
“Every day it just sinks in more and more,” Hollingsworth said. “You are just blessed to get the opportunity. Working harder every day. It’s been the motivation I needed to just go out there, work harder and get better.”
It’s very rare for a recruit from Greenland to get offered by the Razorbacks. Hollingsworth talked about what this could mean for others at his high school as well. It appears the Razorbacks have never signed anyone for football from Greenland.
“I think it’s a great thing for the school,” Hollingsworth said. “I want to get Greenland put on the map. I feel we have a lot of, I feel like, top-tier guys that could go and play college ball. We’re right down the road from a big Power 5 school. It’s nice getting the recognition and opening their eyes to guys in the future like my little brother and other athletes.”
Hollingsworth has offers from Kansas and Akron in addition to the Razorbacks. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown no assistant coaches from colleges were allowed to go out on the road recruiting and prospects couldn’t visit schools. That probably cost Hollingsworth a chance at even more offers to this point, but he took a positive approach to it using it as a benefit.
“I was pretty disappointed we didn’t get to have camps and stuff,” Hollingsworth said. “At a small school that’s a big part of my recruiting. But it also gave me an extra leg. A lot of those guys didn’t really put in the work on those extra three months we had. It’s more or less independent work. So I had to focus on getting out there and getting myself better. I feel like I made a lot of big jumps not only in my recruitment, but as a player for my team.”
While the athletes did miss spring balls at their schools and camps, but many have said it helped their body heal from injuries and the usual wear and tear of going from one sport to the other.
“I wouldn’t say like it was like a recover time for my body, but I got my body back to a 100-percent,” Hollingsworth said. “Not only healthy but better than it was prior to the pandemic.”
In addition to his three offers, Hollingsworth is hearing from some other schools.
“I had a facetime with Virginia Tech yesterday,” Hollingsworth said. “Coach (Beau) Davidson was showing me the facilities and just all that. He’s sending my stuff to the defensive line coach. TCU seems like they are interested and so is Baylor.”
Hollingsworth hasn’t talked to Derrick LeBlanc at Arkansas yet, but hopes to soon. Hollingsworth likes Sam Pittman.
“He’s a great guy,” Hollingsworth said. “Arkansas is lucky to have him. Just like just for in-state guys because some coaches in the past have focused on big guys with publicity four and five stars. Just giving me a chance in Arkansas. Small school guys like me that are closer and have the potential to play. We’re getting that chance now he’s not just looking for those big-name guys.”
Recruiters will now come to Greenland to see Hollingsworth once the recruiting restrictions are lifted. Hollingsworth is hoping that gives others on his team a chance to get noticed as well.
“My quarterback could go DI all day,” Hollingsworth said of Gabe Wilson. “It’s really opening up for him too and it will give him the exposure he needs. Not only my quarterback, but we’ve got a couple of other guys that have the potential to play not only DI, but DII and DIII. I feel it’s really gonna open up a lot.”
As a junior in 2019, Wilson, 6-2, 205, passed for 1,912 yards and 15 touchdowns while running for 485 yards and 10 more scores. Hollingsworth said he doesn’t have a timeline for a college decision.
“Not really,” Hollingsworth said. “Right now I’m more or less focusing on my team and just getting better practicing every day. I don’t really have a timeline for anything, but just focusing on the team.”
The Pirates went 7-5 in 2019 advancing to the second round of the playoffs where they fell to Osceola. Hollingsworth played the last nine games in 2019 with a cast on his hand that was broken.
“We can be pretty good,” Hollingsworth said. “We’ve got a good game to open up against Elkins (Sept. 4). That will really set the tone for the rest of the season. We’re shooting for conference champs and that’s what we’re gonna get, but we’re always gonna try to get that state run.”
Greenland is a member of the 1-3A conference. Others in it are Cedarville, Charleston, Lincoln, Hackett, Mansfield, Lavaca and West Fork.
As a sophomore despite playing both ways and with a cast on one hand for nine weeks, Hollingsworth had 33 tackles, 14 solo, two tackles for loss and one sack. He played nose guard on defense, but will move out to end this season since his hand is healed.
He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds. He benches 320 pounds and squats 430.