GREEN BAY – Ka'dar Hollman had no stars, no scholarship offers and no real hope of playing football past high school, but that never stopped him from dreaming.
A native of Burlington, N.J., Hollman believed he could play at the Division I level. He just needed the opportunity – and a better SAT score.
So Hollman clamped down on his academics, attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., and worked odd jobs unloading trucks for Dunkin' Donuts and cutting meat at a deli.
He wrote letters and emailed highlights to every D-I head coach and assistant he could find. His perseverance eventually landed Hollman a walk-on offer to play at Toledo University.
Years of sacrifice – and an impressive March pro day – led to the Packers drafting Hollman with the 185th selection Saturday, the first of Green Bay's two sixth-round picks.
"Getting picked by Green Bay in the sixth round, I had a rush of emotions go through me," Hollman said. "I just felt like all my hard work and everything I've been through went through me all at once. Tons of emotions about the hard work I did to get here."
Take a look at Packers CB Ka'dar Hollman during his college career.
Despite going to prep school for a semester, Hollman still didn't have the SAT score to get into college. He kept training at home. While working various jobs, Hollman battled self-doubt throughout. Motivation came in the form of the tapes he sent out to colleges - often without any replies.
"Every day, I would email my tape out to teams, to colleges, hoping I would hear something and every day I never heard anything back," Hollman said. "I felt like there were a couple days, I would wonder to myself – dang am I supposed to go D-1 in football? I just had times like that when real life hit me and I had to get through it."
Toledo finally came calling with a walk-on offer. Hollman earned a scholarship after his redshirt freshman year and started at cornerback the next three seasons, registering 27 pass breakups and two interceptions. He led the MAC last year with 12 breakups, along with forcing and recovering a fumble.
What really put Hollman on the NFL map, though, was his Toledo pro day in March, when the 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback recorded a 4.37 time in the 40 with a 39-inch vertical.
The Packers, intrigued with what they'd seen, hosted Hollman on an official pre-draft visit last week. Both parties came away impressed with the meeting.
"I felt the Green Bay tradition, the long tradition with the team, I felt it right when I stepped on Lambeau Field," said Hollman, the first Toledo alumnus to be drafted by the Packers since Carl Ford in 2003. "It was just a different feeling than everywhere else I went. I just felt like the place I was walking in was greater than me. I just felt like that was a place I belonged."
During his time in Toledo, Hollman fulfilled his mother's dream of him earning a college degree. He received a bachelor's degree last tear in individualized studies (with a minor in business) and is currently working towards a Master's in rec and leisure.
Now on the precipice of the NFL, Hollman reflected on his journey. While he won't say he cherishes this opportunity more than any of the other 255 players drafted this weekend, Hollman's sacrifices are paid in full.
"Speaking for myself, I know how much I appreciate it," Hollman said. "I appreciate it to the max and more. I'm not going to say I appreciate it more than them – everyone has their own battles and different journeys – but I don't know anybody's path is like mine."