-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Len Pasquarelli ESPN.com
ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech tailback Tony Hollings, who led the nation in both rushing and scoring through four games last season before sustaining a serious knee injury, will enter next month's NFL supplemental draft, ESPN.com has learned.
Hollings, who was recently declared academically ineligible for the 2003 season, already has filed the pertinent paperwork with league officials and his application will officially be approved next week.
The supplemental draft -- which typically includes players who have lost their eligibility, dropped out of school or can demonstrate other special circumstances, is scheduled for July 10. The deadline for applying to the supplemental draft is next Thursday afternoon.
A franchise that exercises a pick in the supplemental draft must forfeit its corresponding choice in the 2004 regular draft. Among the highest-graded players in the spring report issued by National Football Scouting, Inc., one of the two combine services to which NFL teams subscribe, Hollings could be a middle-round selection in the supplemental draft if his knee is sound.
Hollings had a grade of 7.0 in the combine's nine-point system. He was the second-highest graded tailback according to the springtime ratings and one of just nine college prospects with a grade of 7.0 or above. That grade, though, was based on the projection that his knee would be completely rehabilitated and he would play in his senior year.
Despite denials from his mother, who contended her son might return to school, Hollings told ESPN.com last week that he had apprised head coach Chan Gailey that he intended to apply for the supplemental draft.
"It's what I want to do and (Gailey) is making some calls for me to his friends in the league," Hollings said at the time.
Hollings, 21, rushed for 633 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games last season before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the lateral meniscus cartilage in his right knee in a contest against BYU. While he has sufficient size and speed -- 5-feet-10 ¾, 223 pounds, and a 40-time of about 4.45 -- what Hollings needed was to have a prominent orthopedic surgeon assure teams that his recovery is on-track.
He met on Wednesday with highly-respected orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., and received a very favorable report. The feeling is that Hollings will be available, and ready for unlimited physical activity, by training camp next month.
The tailback was one of 10 Georgia Tech football players recently declared academically ineligible. The school responded this week by restructuring its athletic support staff.
The order, I'm pretty sure, is the same as the regular draft, and if Hollings joins then he'll only be like the 3rd player to enter the supplemental draft this year. Realistically every team doesn't get a shot because anyone worth taking is going to be grabbed by some team like Cinci, if only for trade bait.
Back in 1989, Jimmy Johnson grabbed Steve Walsh in the supplemental draft, causing a QB controversy that Dallas really didn't need (people sorta thought he should play that Troy Aikman guy the team had just drafted).
Look, here's how it works. The draft order is determined randomly. With that order, all teams have and option to pick in one of six rounds or something. Any pick must be sacrificed next year, so watch for all teams to pass in the first round (no one wanting to give up a first rounder on one of these supplemental guys). Any team eyeing Hollings has to assess what round he'll be available in, so as not to give up too good of a pick next year. Most every team will pass most every round, but someone will take him, probably third or fourth.
As for Cincinatti taking him for trade bait, this makes no sense. Why would any team, even the Bengals, give up a quality pick in next year's draft for a player who is barely in demand. You must understand what you're talking about before spouting opinions.
Depending on where he goes, Hollings could be a super sleeper in super deep leagues, but probably will have zero value this year. He is academically ineligible, so he's not a smart, hard working type of player, I'd guess. He's also six months removed from a major knee injury, which we all know takes about twenty months to really recover from.
Some of these guys are so desperate to find the next Clinton Portis that they throw all reason out the window. Forget about Hollings unless you're in a 14 team, 20 man roster dynasty league. Some other dope will draft him and cut him before next season, when he might actually score.