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Alexander Hollins Austin Peay

Eastern Illinois' Alexander Hollins runs after the catch in a November 2018 game against Austin Peay at O'Brien Field in Charleston.

Alexander Hollins is headed to Minnesota.

Hollins, the former Eastern Illinois wide receiver, signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent on Saturday night. He received a three-year contract worth up to $ 1.755 million, according to his agent. It did not include a signing bonus.

In 2018, Hollins led EIU with 80 catches for 1,102 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was second in the FCS in receiving touchdowns and was a first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection. In two years at EIU, he started 22 games and totaled 127 catches, 1,796 yards and 23 touchdowns after transferring from Copiah-Lincoln, a junior college in his home state of Mississippi. 

EIU’s Sept. 3 loss to Arkansas served as Hollins’ breakout in the eyes of NFL scouts. He caught nine passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns in that 55-20 defeat. The production, quickness and separation stood out.

“His Arkansas tape will help him,” Dane Brugler, The Athletic’s NFL Draft analyst, told the JG-TC last month.

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Hollins attended Northwestern’s and Western Illinois’ pro days in March. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, while his 128-inch broad jump and 6.89 three-cone drill would have ranked among the top 10 wide receivers in at the NFL Combine.

His size and strength, though, were the detriments. At 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, he’s likely a slot receiver only in the NFL. He did not play special teams at EIU.

“In JUCO and high school I was a lot smaller than this, so as the years went by I’ve gained weight,” Hollins said earlier this month. “I know I can put on weight as long as I get into the right program and whoever gives me a shot can put that weight on me.”

The Vikings added two wide receivers in the seventh round of the draft: Oregon's Dillon Mitchell and Colorado State's Olabisi Johnson. They have Pro Bowl receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs signed to long-term deals, but no receiver behind them had more than 302 yards in 2018. Hollins studied all NFL teams' receiver situations as part of his pre-draft prep, allowing him to make a decision in the hours following the draft without needing to do much research on the spot after receiving contract offers from teams.

Hollins' first step with his new team is rookie minicamp in May.

Contact Patrick Engel at (217) 238-6856. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickEngel_

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Sports writer

I cover Eastern Illinois football and basketball, as well as Mattoon/Charleston prep sports, for the JG-TC

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