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Difference makers

Jonathon Hollins and Dejuan Yates are a major reason for COC’s success

Posted: November 25, 2008 10:31 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2008 4:55 a.m.

(Left and right) College of the Canyons football players Dejuan Yates and Jonathon Hollins both play nose guard for the Cougars and have garnered the attention of major universities.

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As College of the Canyons head football coach Garett Tujague argued for some of his players to make the All-Western State Conference teams at the post-regular season conference meeting, two players were notably up for discussion.

Tujague's peers thought Jonathon Hollins and Dejuan Yates were the same guy.

Not because they look alike - Hollins is a little taller - but because they manned the same position and their play was so similar. The pair of nose tackles shared time at the same position this season, with Yates taking over during a three-game stretch in which Hollins was hurt.

That meeting was the point of emphasis. Because the Cougars are so talented, many of the players are interchangeable. Hollins and Yates provide the example.

"It's vital that you have guys that can come in (and provide relief) and we have someone at every position," Yates says.

The Cougars' defensive line has many stories of similarities.

The conference's defensive player of the year, Marquis Jackson, has a twin brother, Malik, who plays at USC.

Then there are Jermaine and Jermar Cushnie - twin brothers who toe the line for the Cougars.

But Hollins and Yates were the only players to make the All-Conference list - Hollins on the first team and Yates on the second team.

And there's irony in that two players with such similar play are actually so dissimilar.

Hollins' personality is as large as his 6-foot-4-inch, 280-pound frame.

"I would say he has the gift of gab," Yates says of his teammate.

"That's what the ladies tell me," Hollins quickly quips.
Yates is laid back.

"Jonathon's a great kid, great character kid. Loves people to know about him in a humble way," Tujague says. "Dejuan, on the other hand, if I never said anything to him, he'd never say anything to me."

Both players are sophomores, so one can imagine that the players are competitive for playing time.

That's not the case here.

Both players are complimentary of each other - in fact, Yates says his teammate will be "making money on Sundays" down the line.

Hollins has verbally committed to Tennessee, but with head coach Phil Fulmer's impending departure at the end of the season; he's a free agent of sorts.

Tujague says he receives phone calls from other Southeastern Conference Schools daily.

That includes national powers like Florida and Hollins' hometown team LSU.

Hollins grew up in Baton Rouge, La., where he was the state's defensive player of the year in 2006.

Yates has also opened up some eyes and is being recruited by schools such as Utah and Hawaii.

His uncle, Dana McLemore, was a member of the Super Bowl XIX-winning San Francisco 49ers.

The Thousand Oaks High graduate was an All-CIF and All-Ventura County lineman, but made the switch to the defensive side of the ball at COC.

He's registered 1 ½ sacks and 14 tackles from a position that is not statistically friendly.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 275-pound defensive lineman's value, along with Hollins - who has registered six sacks and 39 tackles - can be seen in the lack of success rushers have had against COC.

The most yardage one runner has had versus the Cougars is 119 yards. COC allowed one 100-yard rusher in its first nine games and has surrendered 3.5 yards per rush this season.

Yates has been the thinking-man's nose tackle, while Hollins has been the aggressor - a window into their personalities.

Their contributions will be vital Saturday against an El Camino team that finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in Southern California by the California Community College Athletic Association poll.

There have been times this year where Hollins and Yates have been on the line together this year.

If they're on the line together again, Tujague is blunt about what will happen.

"They're in trouble," he says of opposing offenses. "Big-time trouble."


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