Jacob Hollister is walking confidently into his second year in the NFL.
The former undrafted free agent out of Wyoming has made his presence noticed during the offseason dating back to the spring and carrying over into training camp. Hollister has particularly made a strong jump in the passing game, drawing the attention of many around Foxboro including fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“Jake’s a great guy, great dude,” Gronk said of Hollister on Wednesday. “Mostly plays well, great player and he likes to learn and get better. He wants to be a player that’s reliable and it’s great to see him learning. He’s just a good guy to hang out with and we’re working off each other. Helping each other in the pass game, high tempo pass game and all that. So, a great player to be out there with.”
Gronk wasn’t the only one to praise Hollister. Coac Bill Belichick, noting earlier this week the jump the young tight end has made, said he has a bright future in the league.
“Jacob improved a lot last year and he’s gotten off to a good start this year from the offseason program to our spring workouts to the start of training camp,” the head coach said on Monday. “He’s still got a long way to go. He has a lot of football in front of him. He didn’t have a lot of experience – had some – but has gained a lot and will gain a lot more. I think he’s got a great future. He works hard, he’s a tough kid, he plays hard, practices hard and has become much better at his fundamentals and techniques at his position.”
Hollister caught just four passes for 42 yards in very limited action during his rookie year last season playing in just 7.55% of the offensive snaps after going undrafted in 2017 out of Wyoming. For the Cowboys in 2016, he turned in 32 catches for 515 yards and seven touchdowns, so there is room for growth there during his time in the NFL.
Hollister’s improvement from year one to year two reminded Gronkowski of his own beginning, calling back to his experience of being more comfortable in the system after already being in it for a season.
“Definitely going into your second year, I felt like you just know a lot more,” he said. “You know what to expect, you know the playbook, you know everyone’s expectations, coaches, the players around you and all that type of stuff. You can feel the chemistry a lot more your second year, when I was going through mine.
So far, Jacob Hollister looks prepared to compliment Gronk as the Patriots’ No. 2 receiving tight end.