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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels in the Pros: Searcy, Williams and Hollins still alive in NFL Playoffs

Da'Norris Searcy
Da'Norris Searcy returned this interception for a touchdown against East Carolina in 2010 (DTH File/Will Cooper).

After Wild Card weekend in the NFL Playoffs, only three former Tar Heels remain standing among the final eight teams.

Da’Norris Searcy and Sylvester Williams are playing on the defensive side of the ball for the Tennessee Titans, while Mack Hollins is filling in as a second string wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor for the Philadelphia Eagles. Strong safety Searcy and nose tackle Williams face the formidable offense of Tom Brady and company on Saturday night in Foxborough, Mass. 

The chances of advancing for the Titans are slim unless they can replicate what the Miami Dolphins did in Week 14 and explode on offense while forcing turnovers against a New England team that simply doesn’t give the ball up. 

In his seventh season, Searcy has played in all 16 games, but had a career low with 12 tackles and just one interception. Similarly, Williams, in his fifth season as a pro and first as a Titan, recorded only 12 tackles and had zero sacks. Both teammates, however, stepped up in the team’s upset win in the Wild Card matchup versus the Chiefs. Searcy recorded four tackles while Williams had two and logged his first sack of the season. Tennessee will need similar performances from these Tar Heels on Saturday if they are to have any hope. 

Sylvester Williams (92) makes a tackle against Virginia during the 2012 season (DTH File/Spencer Herlong)

Searcy and Williams made huge contributions in their stops at North Carolina, but many Tar Heel fans were focused on the former stars drafted in this year’s NFL class. The six picks included Mitchell Trubisky, Nazair Jones, Mack Hollins, Ryan Switzer, T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood. 

Although some made bigger impacts on their respective teams than others, Hollins was the only one to make the playoffs. With Carson Wentz as quarterback, Hollins showed spurts of production in his rookie season. His most notable performance came in a Monday Night showdown versus the Washington Redskins in Week 7 when he caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Wentz.

Former North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins (13) celebrates a touchdown against Pittsburgh last fall.

The video was all over SportsCenter the following day, as Hollins became known to a much wider audience than his Tar Heel community. Hollins finished the season with 16 catches for 226 yards and one touchdown. Noting these statistics, Hollins could have had a much more explosive rookie year had his role on the Eagles been more prominent. However, in the heart of the season, Hollins became a more noticeable target for Wentz as Hollins caught a pass in seven straight games. 

Once Wentz tore his ACL against the Rams, though, Hollins hasn't been as much of a factor. The Tar Heel alumnus has yet to catch a pass from back-up quarterback Nick Foles.


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