Quarterbacks Feed Hollins, Hollins Feeds Snakes

North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins joined The David Glenn Show just days after hauling in three receptions for 103 yards and three touchdowns in the Tar Heels’ 50-14 win over Wake Forest on Oct. 17. During the conversation, the former walk-on discussed his pet snakes, his family’s reaction when he earned a scholarship and the differences between last season and this season for the Tar Heels.

Listen to the interview here, or see the full transcript below:

Q: Before we dive into football, what happens when your UNC football teammates visit your apartment to see you feed your pet snakes?

A: The cameras are all out when the snakes are in the cage. It’s all Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Everybody loves it, but when the snakes come out, I don’t have too many friends over.

Q: What types of snakes do you have, and how large and scary are they? I’m sure some of your teammates that are scattering are 300-pounders.

A: Right now, I have one ball python who’s about two-and-a-half years old and is probably coming up on four feet. And then I have my baby, which is a Columbian sunglow boa who I got in February. She’s not too big. She’s probably about three feet, but she’ll get to about 8-10 feet.

Q: What do they eat, and what freaks out your teammates the most?

A: The ball python eats rats right now, and that’s what he’ll probably stay on for the rest of his life; he’s almost full-grown. The boa is eating mice right now until she’ll move up to rats. Eventually, when she’s full-grown, she’ll eat rabbit. With the teammates, I don’t know what it is. The snakes’ size compared to them is like an inphant to an elephant, but somehow they find their way to the door when I bring them out.

Q: Do you feed them live animals or frozen stuff from the pet store?

A: I used to feed them live mice and rats, but with the budget I’m on, I had to buy in bulk. So I buy frozen now and just dethaw them and feed them frozen.

Q: Is it true you want to own a pet store at some point?

A: Yes, that is true — a pet store that focuses on snakes and fish. I’m big into fish, but unfortunately we don’t have the time with practice and all the days we’re away with games and training camp and stuff like that to feed them every day. The snakes, I only have to feed once every week or two. They can hang out on their own.

Q: Given how any of your pets devour their prey, what was most similar to the Tar Heels’ 50-14 dissection of Wake Forest?

A: Our first quarter, we came out sluggish just like my snakes. They’ll sit hiding in the den, and I’ll have a mouse or rat hanging out in front of them. And it’s instant. They’ll sit around, and all of a sudden, the mouse is gone. Even on videotape, you can’t even see how fast it is. You’ve got to put it in slow-mo, and then it looks like they’re moving in regular speed, it’s so fast. That’s the greatest comparison I can put to our first quarter coming out, just hiding, and then the rest of the game just striking.

Q: You guys got off to a slow start against Wake Forest. Last season’s UNC team got off to some slow starts and eventually ended up on the wrong end of some blowouts. What’s different about this year’s team?

A: We were in the same situation, but only worse, in the week before (against Georgia Tech). If we can come back from 21, seven is nothing. The way this team can stay together and have each other’s back no matter what’s happening — Quise (Marquise Williams) throws two picks, and the defensive players are right by his side as he comes to the sideline saying, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it and get the ball back. You guys can score when you get a chance.”

Q: How does it work when you play in an offense that spreads the ball around to so many different receivers? Do guys get greedy?

A: It’s obviously tough when you’ve got that many great players all on the same offense, but the way Coach (Gunter) Brewer has molded us into the strongest group — I think the most tightly knit group — is awesome because we’re at practice, and we all know that at any time the person behind us could take our spot just because of how athletic and how great we all are at receiver. Every week is a competition week, and every practice you’ve got to go all out or you might lose that spot. But it’s not grudges that we hold. Guys aren’t mad at each other. If I score, Quinshad (Davis) is not mad because he didn’t get it, even though he may have been open. Bug (Howard) is not mad if I score, and I’m not mad if he scores. It goes all throughout all five and six of us. It’s just nice to know that we have guys that are working hard but not mad at each other. It’s just a team and a family, really.

Q: In a win over Delaware earlier this year, you caught two touchdown passes thrown by quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Then, against the Demon Deacons, you catch three touchdown passes thrown by Marquise Williams. Do you joke around about how you’ve gone from being a Trubisky guy to a Marquise guy?

A: Reporters always ask, “Who do you prefer?” I honestly can say, “I don’t care.” You can see it doesn’t matter to me. Whoever’s going to throw it, I’m going to try to make them look good. That’s my job. You could see two weeks ago, three weeks ago against Delaware — I can catch it from Mitch, and I can catch it from Quise. That’s all our receiving corps is. We’re just trying to catch the ball. You could go out there and throw to us, and we’re going to catch it. We’ll find a way.

Q: You made the journey from walk-on to ACC-caliber wide receiver. What made you stick it out through what must have been a difficult, uphill battle?

A: When I first got here, for the first two-and-a-half years, I was a walk-on. But you could ask the guys, the whole time I was here, my mindset was, “I’m going to find a way to get a scholarship, and there’s nothing that’s going to stop me.” Every day I went out to practice was a day for me to earn that scholarship. Eventually I did, but that mindset is still the same today. I’m still earning that scholarship. Obviously I have one, but in my mind, I’m earning that scholarship every play, whether that’s to make it to the next level or just to prove myself to my teammates. Every time I run down on kickoff, coming from a walk-on, I’m still a walk-on when I’m running down. That first game at South Carolina (in 2013) running down on kickoff for my first play of college, I was trying to earn a scholarship and trying to prove myself to the older guys. That’s the mindset that I’ve always and and the mindset I always will have.

Q: What do you remember most about the moment you found out you had been put on scholarship?

A: I remember walking into Coach (Larry) Fedora’s office, and we had a conversation. This was right before summer session, so right after our spring semester. He said, “I’m going to put you on scholarship for the summer.” He told me it was just for the summer. He said, “If you get a scholarship and want to be one of those guys that stops working and has it made now, I’ll take it away.” I believed every word he said, so I worked as hard as I’ve ever worked — if not harder — to make sure there’s no reason for him to possibly think of taking my scholarship away. I remember him having that conversation with me and then calling home. My mom was crying, and my dad was saying good job and all that. But it was right back to work. I’m not really one for the big YouTube sensation videos, so I’m glad he didn’t do something like that. I’m not real good with surprises. I don’t have a real good surprise face, so I don’t know how many views it would’ve got.

Q: You guys have allowed only one of your opponents to score more than 17 points this year. Statistically, UNC’s defense was one of the worst in school history a year ago. How has the defense gotten this much better with a lot of the same players in such a short period of time?

A: Just people buying in. Last year, we had a lot of guys that wanted to do their own thing. When Coach (Gene) Chizik came, you can’t do your own thing in his scheme. He tells the guys every week, if he calls a play and (the offense) calls the perfect play against that defense, they can still be successful even though the defense they called isn’t perfect for the offensive play. As long as everybody does their job, then it doesn’t matter. Last year, we had a lot of guys who didn’t want to do their job. But you can definitely tell this year — it’s night and day — everybody is doing their job, and you can see it across the field. We’re not giving up big plays and every five or six players you see somebody wide open deep, because guys trust each other, and they’re having each other’s back. Everybody has completely bought into what Coach Chizik has planned.

Q: Your teammate, Ryan Switzer, had some fun on Twitter responding to an old tweet from a Wake Forest assistant coach who had been mocking the Tar Heels’ off-field problems during the offseason. Is that just Switzer being Switzer, or were you in the middle of it?

A: No, I didn’t even know it had happened until I saw it on Twitter. Guys always are going to talk down to a team in-state whenever they get a chance. We get that all the time. It feels good to be able to silence all that. There’s not too much coming out talking about us now.