When defensive end Justin Hollins first stepped into the hallway of Arlington Martin after receiving his varsity jersey — No. 18 — he was met with surprised looks from those around him.
Ever since former Martin defensive end and Under Armor All-American Devonte Fields took that jersey off for the final time in 2012 and moved on to TCU, the number has been held as sacred around the school.
For Hollins, the aura that surrounded the number became a challenge.
“It’s a way for me to show everybody that I have one of the well-known numbers in the school and I can represent it well, just as Devonte did back then when he was at Martin,” Hollins said.
He clearly represented the number and his school well. Hollins is headed to Oregon as one of the top recruits in North Texas.
But what made Martin so successful — the Warriors reached the third round of the 5A Division I playoffs, where they lost to DeSoto — is the fact that Hollins isn’t the most touted recruit on the Warriors’ roster.
He isn’t even the highest-ranked player at his position.
Opposite Hollins on Martin’s defensive line was Myles Garrett, the top defensive end in the nation.
“The greatest blessing of having both of those guys is that they’ve made one another improve,” said coach Bob Wager, who has sent 50 players to Division I programs during his eight years at the school.
“They compete on the field and it’s a healthy competition but at the same time they are constantly in a race to get to the quarterback or make a big play or whatever it is. I think the two of them having one another this year has elevated both of their performances.”
Said Garrett, who has committed to Texas A&M: “I don’t see a spotlight. I just keep on playing the game the way I was two years ago when I wasn’t ranked anything. It’s just a ranking. It doesn’t mean anything until you prove it.”
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