Share This Page

Pitt lineman Juantez Hollins happy he didn't quit after struggles

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 11:19 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt offensive lineman Juantez Hollins plays against North Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, at Heinz Field.

The thought briefly ran through Juantez Hollins' head, but the Pitt coaches never knew.

After sitting out last season for violating team rules — the third of his first four years at Pitt in which he didn't play a snap — he wondered if football was worth the trouble.

The answer came back in the affirmative, but not before he thought about turning in his playbook.

“Quitting, for real,” he said. “It came across.”

It didn't take long for Hollins to realize he had come too far in his football life to give it up with one season to play.

“I'm not a quitter,” he said. “I wasn't raised to be a quitter. I stuck it out.”

With this season winding down to a crucial two games, including Friday against Miami in the seniors' last game at Heinz Field, coach Paul Chryst is relieved to have Hollins on the field.

Hollins, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound Aliquippa graduate, will make his second start of the season at left tackle in place of redshirt freshman Adam Bisnowaty, who has a back injury. Chryst is trusting Hollins with the important task of protecting quarterback Tom Savage's blind side.

To his credit, Hollins never took what he called “bad thoughts” to coaches. He went to practice every day and waited for an opportunity.

“I never showed weakness on the field,” he said. “They never knew I wanted to quit, but it was in my head, yeah.”

Hollins, 23, took his concerns home to his mother, Tamika Genes, who reminded him why he was in college.

“When you are not playing as a senior, you know it's your last year, you have a lot of bad thoughts,” he said. “But having my mom and my parents behind you (helped). (She said), ‘Don't let it get to you. Just try to finish school. That's the main thing.'

“At the end of it, you are going to need that degree. I just thought, you got suspended the year before and you didn't leave. You stayed. You might as well stick it out. It would be stupid to quit in your senior year.”

Hollins, who started four years at Aliquippa, didn't play during his first two seasons at Pitt.

That was difficult, but he never lost faith in himself.

“I knew, eventually, my number would be called,” he said.

Hollins started eight games as a sophomore in 2011, but his next opportunity didn't arrive until the North Carolina game Nov. 16. Freshman Dorian Johnson started that game for Bisnowaty, but coaches opted for Hollins' experience in the second half.

“I thought at the time that Juantez would give us a little bit better chance,” Chryst said.

Johnson's opportunities stretch as far as 2016. Hollins' chances are limited and, perhaps, more valuable to him.

To that end, Chryst said Hollins has approached this final opportunity the right way.

“His actions seem to be good, like he is truly embracing it,” he said. “Like you hope and like you should.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.