GREEN BAY – Two weeks was all Ka’Dar Hollman needed to realize this wasn’t what he was meant to do. Some way, somehow, the future Packers cornerback had to go to college.
While working to improve his grades and SAT score, Hollman picked up two odd jobs – one as a driver’s assistant, emptying trucks around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and another working at a bread factory.
Both gigs were monotonous and draining. The trucker job required Hollman to unload Dunkin Donuts boxes around the tristate area until the freight was empty. When inclement weather arose, Hollman would have to stay overnight in a hotel room with a driver he didn’t know.
The bread job was the polar opposite, but that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Instead of sitting and lifting boxes for an endless period of time, Hollman was required to mindlessly stand in a factory line for eight hours each day.
He lasted two weeks in each job before submitting his resignation.
“Those jobs right there just gave me more motivation because those are jobs I didn’t want to do my whole life,” Hollman said. “There were people I was working with telling me how they’ve been working there for 30 years. I’m like, this is not something I want to do when I get older.”
Hollman wanted to play Division I football, and athletically, there was little question he had the talent to do it. A two-way player at Burlington (N.J.) Township High School, Hollman had 22 catches for 720 yards to go along with 62 tackles, seven breakups and an interception during his senior year.
Unable to draw any college interest, however, Hollman attended Milford Academy prep school in New Berlin, N.Y. He had 26 tackles, six breakups and four interceptions, but still didn’t have the grades to matriculate to college after his first semester.
As all of his classmates and friends shipped out, Hollman had to take a long look in the mirror and keep the faith. He put together highlight tapes of his games and sent them out to every FCS or FBS school he could find an email or address for.
“Just basically knowing who I am, knowing my abilities,” said Hollman of how he stayed motivated. “I always knew what type of player I was, so basically just having self-motivation throughout that whole time, just knowing that I can play at this level and believe in that just guided me through that whole path right there.”
Perseverance eventually guided him to the University of Toledo in 2015. After getting the green light academically, Hollman paid his way through school for the first two years before earning a scholarship as a redshirt sophomore.
Hollman recorded 110 tackles, 27 passes defensed and two interceptions over his final three collegiate seasons. The 6-foot, 196-pound cornerback rocketed up draft boards after an impressive Toledo pro day in which he clocked a 4.39-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 6.81 in the three-cone drill to go along with a 38-inch vertical jump, according to NFL.com.
Among the several officials visits Hollman took was a trip to Green Bay two weeks before the NFL Draft. Getting a chance to talk a little with the coaches, Hollman felt the Packers would be the right fit to further develop his skills.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst agreed, drafting Hollman in the sixth round (185th overall) two weeks ago.
“I always had athletic ability. I feel like over the past couple of years, my technique got way better and I got smarter as far as my football IQ,” Hollman said. “Coming to a team like the Packers, I feel like they’re going to take it to another level so the game could be even slower for me. Once that happens, I believe the sky’s the limit.”
The past wasn’t all bad for Hollman. He had one job he enjoyed, working at a grocery store deli for five months before leaving for Toledo, and in his darkest moments, his family was always there to bring Hollman back up.
It has pushed him to the doorstep of an NFL career. Having seen what the real world looks like, Hollman plans to make the most of his opportunity in Green Bay.
“This is definitely my dream,” Hollman said. “Going back and thinking about where I started until now, it’s definitely, like, in the beginning it’s hard to even think about now. When I’m actually here, you’ve just got to remember where you came from and stay humble.”