Virginia running back Mike Hollins returned to practice Tuesday, four months after being wounded in a shooting that killed three of his teammates.
The fifth-year senior was a full participant as the Cavaliers kicked off spring practice in Charlottesville, Va.
“Just to watch how he’s attacked everything, could easily have made excuses, easily have overthought things and but he’s taking it upon himself to respond and show perseverance and be resilient,” Virginia coach Tony Elliott said, per ESPN.
“I think a lot of it is for himself, but the majority of it is for his teammates. There was a time when we didn’t know if he’d ever have the chance to play to play football again. I’m just grateful to be on the grass, grateful to have an opportunity to be here at the University of Virginia and lead this program, lead these young men, all the guys that decided to come back and pick up the pieces and turn this tragedy into a triumph.”
On Nov. 13, Hollins was one of four players shot on a charter bus after returning to campus from a field trip to Washington, D.C.
Hollins was shot in the back and spent a week in the hospital, including some time on a ventilator.
According to his mother, Hollins had returned to the bus to help others after the shooting started.
Teammates Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry did not survive. Another student, Marlee Morgan, survived a gunshot wound.
A former Virginia player, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., was charged with three counts of second-degree murder.
Hollins has rushed for 540 yards and seven touchdowns and added 24 catches for 197 yards in 30 career games with the Cavaliers.
“Just so happy for Mike, because we all know that as a football player that your time is going to come to an end,” Elliott said. “You definitely wouldn’t want it to come to an end in that fashion. So to see him to have another opportunity, just to go out on his own terms, makes it really special.”
Fellow running back Perris Jones said seeing Hollins on the field is an inspiration to the rest of the team.
“Just the way he’s carried himself throughout this tragedy and how he continues to carry himself, it’s surreal,” Jones said, per ESPN. “He is a strong man, and his fight every day encourages all of us to continue to fight and to do the best that we absolutely can because if he can do it, we can as well, so it’s definitely motivating.”
The Cavaliers canceled their last two games and finished 3-7 in their first season under Elliott.
Virginia opens the 2023 season on Sept. 2 against Tennessee in Nashville.