JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Jaguars kicker Mike Hollis will make his return to pro football Friday when he kicks for the Jacksonville Sharks in a National Arena League game against the San Antonio Gunslingers.
When Hollis, 50, boots one for the Sharks, it will be the first time he’s kicked in a professional game in 20 years. He last kicked for the Buffalo Bills in 2002. But when the Sharks face the Gunslingers, the man who once represented the Jaguars in the Pro Bowl will be on the field with new Jacksonville teammates, some of whom are half his age.
Hollis tried out for the Sharks during training camp in March when he was competing with Brandon Behr, another local from Fleming Island. Behr won the competition but was released in May. The team signed another kicker, Cody Barber, but he’s now dealing with an injury. So, Hollis got the call.
He’s been coaching kickers at his ProForm Kicking Academy and he’s in good shape and ready to show he can still kick.
“It’s a great thing for me to see what I can do,” Hollis said. “I was in the arena this morning, practicing and kicking with the team, And doing OK. I still need to get a little bit more work with the snapper and holder. It’s kind of a routine sort of thing you’ve got to get kind of comfortable with. But for the most part, I kicked pretty well. I haven’t kicked in an arena for a long time, especially, you know, kicking those arena footballs. And I was hitting on pretty well, you know, on my own.”
The Sharks are coming off a win over previously undefeated Carolina last week. That, coupled with Hollis’ notoriety, could bring a big crowd to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena Friday night.
“I have a lot of friends here in Jacksonville, I’ve been here a long time. And I’m telling you, people are coming out of nowhere buying tickets,” Hollis said. “They’re like, ‘I’m gonna see you play, I want to go out there.’ They’re all coming to the game. So, it’ll be a big crowd, I assume, coming off a good victory. Obviously, that’s another reason why there’ll be some fans there because they won last week. And it’ll be exciting.”
Hollis says he feels confident in his mechanics, a central core of his teaching techniques. Adjusting to new surroundings and playing in front of a crowd for the first time in two decades will be the biggest adjustment.
“You get into a game and things are a little different,” Hollis said. “What kind of has thrown me off a little bit, and I just need to be a little bit more patient, especially on game day because I know I might, you know, have a little anxiety on game day, is the timing of the snap and hold is slower in the arena game. So, I have to slow my approach. it’s just a matter of getting as many reps as I can with a snapper-holder and getting into a routine with that whole operation. And then it’s just all about relying on my technique.”